A trial-level judge has dismissed a challenge to New York’s new gun law, rejecting legal claims that the law was pushed through the Legislature improperly and that its restrictions violate the Second Amendment.
State Supreme Court Justice Thomas McNamara’s decision, announced Wednesday, is expected to be appealed as gun rights supporters continue to protest the 2013 SAFE Act. The law bans the sale of high-capacity magazines and many semi-automatic firearms and requires those who already own such weapons with authorities.
Plaintiff Robert Schulz, who is spearheading the legal challenge, argued that Gov. Andrew Cuomo inappropriately fast-tracked passage of the legislation in issuing a “message of necessity” to allow lawmakers to waive the usual waiting period for the consideration of bills. At the time, Cuomo said the measure needed immediate consideration to protect the public.
Schulz said Cuomo’s excuse was a “sham,” but the judge ruled that Cuomo’s request was within the law.
Schulz, who was joined by more than 1,000 other plaintiffs, also argued that the SAFE Act violates state and federal constitutional protections on gun rights. But the judge noted in his ruling that those protections are “not absolute and may be limited by reasonable government restrictions.”
“The right is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose,” he wrote.
Schulz said the decision was disappointing but not surprising. He said he plans to appeal the ruling to the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.
“The people are losing freedoms one slice at a time,” he said. “The way the system is working is in sharp contrast to the way it’s supposed to work.”
The ruling was hailed by the group New Yorkers Against Gun Violence and state Senate co-leader Jeff Klein, a Democrat, who was a sponsor of the SAFE Act.
“The courts agree that nothing should stand in the way of smart gun laws that protect New Yorkers from senseless gun violence,” Klein said.
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said his office will continue to defend “efforts to ensure the safety of all New Yorkers by keeping guns out of dangerous hands.”
“New Yorkers deserve to live in a state with a strong set of procedures in place to protect them from gun violence,” he said in a statement. “The SAFE Act established those necessary safeguards without infringing on the rights of responsible gun owners.”
In a federal lawsuit, the state affiliate of the National Rifle Association joined gun owners and other gun rights groups in challenging the law. A federal judge recently upheld most of the law; the decision is under appeal.