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In upholding NY's 'SAFE Act,' judge makes surprising (inadvertent?) admission

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In news that should surprise no one, Chief U.S. District Judge William Skretny has decreed that New York's 'SAFE Act,' banning so-called "assault weapons" and "high capacity" magazines does not violate the Second Amendment, and is thus Constitutional. Yep--bans on the most popular centerfire rifles in the nation, and standard capacity magazines are, according to Skretny, entirely in keeping with shall not be infringed.

Well, mostly. Skretny did rule that the law's silly provision that magazines cannot be loaded with more than seven rounds (even though magazine capacity of up to 10 rounds is legal) is "arbitrary." That's difficult to dispute, but as Bob Owens points out in Bearing Arms, the ten round limit is no less so (almost certainly a function of our base ten mathematics--if humans normally had only three digits on each hand, Skretny would presumably have found a six round limit permissible).

In addition to the "arbitrariness" of the seven-round limit, Skretny rejected it for another reason, as quoted by the Poughkeepsie Journal (which calls Skretny's tiny concession to sanity a "blow to SAFE Act"):

“This provision, much more so than with respect to the other provisions of the law, presents the possibility of a disturbing perverse effect, pitting the criminal with a fully-loaded magazine against the law-abiding citizen limited to seven rounds,” Skretny wrote.

Very true, but how can he realize that, and simultaneously fail to realize that the criminal with the fully-loaded magazine will not likely feel particularly compelled to obey the 10-round limit on the magazine's capacity, either?

The most surprising part of the ruling, though, came in his explanation of why "assault weapons" can be legitimately banned. From (ironically enough) Bloomberg Businessweek:

There is “no serious dispute that the very features that increase a weapon’s utility for self-defense also increase its dangerousness to the public at large,” Skretny wrote.

In saying that, he is obviously also saying that "the very features that increase a weapon's dangerousness to the public at large also increase its utility for self-defense [especially for the disabled]"--an admission you almost never hear from those who seek to ban so-called "assault weapons."

Once we reach that point--that the features that supposedly give the state cause to ban a class of firearms used in a tiny percentage of violence also make those firearms eminently useful for self-defense--a ban assumes that a would-be "assault weapon" owner intends mass carnage, rather than self-defense. Gee, Judge--Department of Precrime much?

And again, Judge Skretny clearly knows that a law requiring that magazines not be loaded with more than seven rounds gives a clear tactical advantage to the criminal willing to violate that law, over the "law abiding gun owner" who is not willing to do so, but seems somehow to have failed to realize that a law banning "assault weapons" similarly favors the criminal who ignores the law.

As we have discussed before, so-called "assault weapons" are indeed more effective self-defense arms than other guns. New Yorkers have every right to ask Judge Skretny why he insists that only the criminals have that advantage.

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