Lawsuit challenges definition of ‘assault weapon’ in New York law
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Lawsuit challenges definition of ‘assault weapon’ in New York law

Two New York residents and a gun rights group Tuesday filed a lawsuit challenging New York’s assault weapons ban following the US Supreme Court’s decision to strike down one of New York’s concealed carry regulations. The lawsuit alleges that New York’s definition of “assault weapon” infringes upon individuals’ Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms.

New York residents David Vanchoff and Andrew Cross as well as Firearms Policy Coalition, Inc. (FPC) filed suit against New York. Vanchoff, Cross and FPC argue that the use of the phrase “assault weapon” in New York’s gun laws is too broad.

The lawsuit accuses New York of using the phrase to encapsulate too many semiautomatic firearms in common use and criminalizing their possession. It describes how both Vanchoff and Cross seek to possess AR-15s, lightweight semiautomatic rifles, but are unable to do so because of the criminal penalties imposed by New York law.

The lawsuit comes shortly after the US Supreme Court struck down one of New York’s key restrictions on concealed carring. New York previously had a gun regulation which required individuals to demonstrate a greater need for self defense than the general public to obtain an unrestricted handgun license. In New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, the US Supreme Court held that New York could not require individuals to present a special need to assert their Second Amendment rights, as applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment.

Shortly thereafter, the New York Legislature passed a new law which removed the portions of the old law that had been at issue in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen. The new law requires individuals seeking a license to meet with a licensing officer for an interview, provide emergency contact information, and maintain the “good character” requirements.

The lawsuit was filed and will proceed through federal court in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York.