Federal judge upholds most of New York gun law

Federal judge upholds most of New York gun law

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[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Western District of New York [official website] on Tuesday upheld [opinion, PDF] New York’s strict gun law as constitutional but struck down a provision prohibiting gun owners to load more than seven rounds into a magazine. The New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act [text, PDF], known as the SAFE Act, was enacted in January 2013 [JURIST report] and is among the most restrictive gun laws in the country. Judge William Skretny stated that the challenged provisions banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines are legally sound because they “further the state’s important interest in public safety, and do not impermissibly infringe on … Second Amendment rights.” However, Skretny found that the seven-round limit provision of the SAFE Act, which makes it “unlawful for a person to knowingly possess an ammunition feeding device where such device contains more than seven rounds of ammunition,” is not “substantially related” to the government interest in public safety. Further, Judge Skretny found that the provision in direct conflict with the Second Amendment:

This provision, much more so than with respect to the other provisions of the law, presents the possibility of a disturbing perverse effect, pitting the criminal with a fully-loaded magazine against the law-abiding citizen limited to seven rounds. … The seven-round limit thus carries a much stronger possibility of disproportionately affecting law-abiding citizens.

Although celebrating the “partial victory,” guns rights organizations are expected to appeal.

Several states have enacted new gun control measures in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting, many of which have also faced challenges and lawsuits from advocacy groups. Last month, a federal judge in Connecticut dismissed a lawsuit [JURIST report] challenging Connecticut’s new gun-control law. Connecticut’s new measure was signed [JURIST report] into law in April and is considered one of the most far-reaching gun-control laws in the country. The law added over 100 new weapons to the list of banned assault firearms and creates the nation’s first database of dangerous weapon offenders. A day later Maryland also enacted [JURIST report] a new firearms law, imposing stricter requirements to obtain a license for certain types of firearms. In May Colorado County Sheriffs filed [JURIST report] a lawsuit against their state’s two new gun-control laws, also enacted early in 2013. Those laws also included magazine capacity limits and increased scrutiny over those purchasing firearms.