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SAFE Act ruling being appealed

Sunday, January 19, 2014 - Updated: 7:56 AM


Express Editor

ALBANY -- The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association is appealing a federal judge's ruling that upholds most of the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act of 2013.

The appeal was filed Jan. 7, a week after Chief U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny handed down his decision. He wrote, "[The law] does not totally disarm New York's citizens, and it does not meaningfully jeopardize their right to self-defense."

A post on the group's website says, "... plaintiffs including the NYS Rifle and Pistol Association have filed an appeal of the ruling. An appeal -- whether from NYSRPA or the Attorney General's Office, which defended the case -- was expected. The case now gets kicked up to a higher federal appeals level."

Skretny did find against the limit of seven rounds in a gun magazine, and struck three aspects of the law:

• the "and if" clause in the section making possession of a large capacity (over 10 rounds) ammunition feeding device illegal, as being unintelligible;

• the portion of the definition of an assault weapon referring to a "muzzle break" rather than "muzzle brake;" and

• the portion of the definition of an assault weapon in regard to semiautomatic pistols that can accept a detachable magazine and are "semiautomatic version[s] of an automatic rifle, shotgun or firearm," as being unconstitutionally vague, "... as an ordinary person cannot know whether any single semiautomatic pistol is a 'version' of an automatic one."

But he upheld most of the SAFE Act as constitutional.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo rammed the SAFE Act through the state Legislature the night of Jan. 15, 2013, bypassing the normal three-day wait required by the NYS Constitution, which is intended to give legislators and the public time to review proposed laws.

He used a "message of necessity" to bypass the waiting period and convinced legislative leaders to support the move.

According to Assemblyman Marc Butler (R-Newport), the bill was passed within seven hours from draft to law.

Gun rights supporters obtained a court order requiring Cuomo and the Legislature to justify the message of necessity. The Appellate Division ruled in July 2013 that state law generally prohibits judicial review of a message of necessity.


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