Both gun-control activists and gun-rights advocates acted quickly last week to appeal portions of a federal judge’s ruling on the New York SAFE Act, the sweeping gun control law passed in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.
The state Attorney General’s Office announced on Friday that it would challenge Chief U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny’s ruling that the provision prohibiting gun owners from loading more than seven rounds in a 10-round magazine was unconstitutional.
“We will vigorously defend New York’s SAFE Act in the Court of Appeals,” Matt Mittenthal, a spokesman for Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, told the Poughkeepsie Journal.
Mittenthal further noted that Skretny “upheld most of New York’s SAFE Act, and we will forcefully defend that ruling and appeal those parts of the decision that struck down portions of the law.”
Judge Skretny shot down the magazine limit on the grounds that it was “tenuous, strained, and unsupported in the record.” In other words, the seven-round limit was completely arbitrary.
Meanwhile, the main plaintiff in the case, the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association also filed an appeal (see document below) on Friday, claiming that the entire law is unconstitutional because it infringes on one’s right to keep and bear arms.
In addition to limiting magazine capacity, the SAFE Act expanded the state’s ban on so-called ‘assault weapons’ and created a confiscatory ban on magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition that were previously grandfathered in under an older law.
Gun owners are now forced to register their so-called ‘assault weapons’ with the state and must either destroy, sell off to out-of-state gun dealers, or turn over to police any 10-plus round magazine.
Judge Skretny argued that with the new measures regulating so-called ‘assault weapons’ and banning magazines over 10 rounds accord with the state’s “interest in public safety” and do not “impermissibly infringe on Plaintiffs’ Second Amendment rights.”
Thomas King, the president of the Rifle & Pistol Association, spoke about the need to file an appeal in a timely manner.
“They just wanted to get this filed as quickly as possible to show the people that we were serious and that this is not a flash in the pan and we’re going to go after the whole SAFE Act,” said King.
Although the judge upheld most of the law, King said that there was a silver-lining in the ruling, i.e., Skretny’s acknowledgment that ‘assault weapons’ are “commonly used for lawful purposes,” which implies that they are constitutionally protected under the Second Amendment and therefore are not subject to infringements, an argument that will undoubtedly be further explored as this case makes it way through the appellate process.