The Second Amendment Foundation filed a lawsuit last week in federal court challenging a portion of the New York SAFE Act that limits one to loading no more than seven rounds in a 10-round magazine.
The lawsuit claims that the seven-round limit violates one’s right to keep and bear arms because it “substantially interferes with the right of law abiding citizens to defend themselves and is not sufficiently related to any compelling or otherwise adequate government interest.”
Joining the SAF as plaintiffs in the case are Shooters Committee for Political Education (SCOPE) and Long Island Firearms LLC. Defendants include New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Joseph D’Amico, superintendent of the Division of State Police.
In a press release, SAF Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb discussed the problems that the law creates for responsible gun owners.
“The cartridge limit is arbitrary and serves no useful purpose other than to frustrate, and perhaps entrap, law abiding citizens who own firearms with standard capacity magazines that were designed to hold more than seven rounds,” said Gottlieb.
“Several top law enforcement officials have already publicly stated they will not enforce provisions of this law, yet Cuomo and D’Amico are pushing ahead,” he continued.
The SAFE Act, or Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, was the first sweeping gun control bill passed in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. The SAFE Act was essentially rammed through the state Legislature in the dead of night (after 11 p.m. on Jan. 14, 2013); lawmakers were only given two hours to read the bill as the governor waved the mandatory three-day legislative review period.
In addition to placing a retroactive ban on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds and restricting the number of rounds one can load in a 10-round magazine to seven, the SAFE Act broadened the definition of “assault weapon” to include many more commonly owned rifles and requires registration of all the newly defined “assault weapons.”
“The law is contradictory, in that it is legal in New York to possess magazines that hold up to 10 cartridges,” explained Gottlieb. “But the SAFE Act limits people to seven rounds, with some narrow exceptions. This amounts to virtual entrapment for anyone who loads more than seven rounds in a magazine for self-defense purposes.”
The only time one can load 10 rounds in his/her 10-round magazine is when he/she is at a shooting range or at a sanctioned competition, which means that law-abiding citizens who want to exercise their Second Amendment rights for traditionally lawful purposes such as self-defense inside the home are not allowed to decide for themselves how to best protect their family and property.
“While law-abiding gun owners are free to possess ammunition magazines that can hold up to 10 rounds, it is illegal to load more than seven rounds in an otherwise lawful 8, 9 or 10-round magazine,” the lawsuit argues.
It goes on to state that an individual “has a greater ability to protect his or her life (or the lives of his or her family members) with an ammunition magazine that holds a greater number of rounds of ammunition.”
But from Cuomo’s perspective, the law places a reasonable limitation on gun ownership.
“The tragic events of just the last few weeks in Newtown, Conn., and West Webster, N.Y., have indelibly taught us guns can cut down small children, firefighters and policemen in a moment,” Cuomo said in his State of the State address back in January.
“No one hunts with an assault rifle. No one needs 10 bullets to kill a deer,” he famously yelled. “End the madness now!”
Though, most gun owners would disagree with the notion that the Second Amendment was created to protect the rights of deer hunters.
Aside from arguing that the SAFE Act impairs the self-defense rights of citizens, SAF lawyers might also make the case that the magazine restriction is in “direct conflict” with the U.S. Supreme Court’s Heller decision, which ruled that arms “typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes” or those “in common use” are constitutionally protected (a similar argument will be made by the NRA if California Jerry Brown signs gun control legislation into law).
“Magazines that hold 10 or more rounds are in common use all over the country,” Gottlieb noted. “This arbitrary limit essentially penalizes law-abiding citizens for exercising their right of self-defense, and that cannot be allowed to stand.”