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New York Supreme Court upholds SAFE Act

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New York State’s Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act does not violate a citizen’s Second Amendment rights, State Supreme Court Justice Thomas McNamara ruled in a decision announced Wednesday. Additionally, Governor Andrew Cuomo and state legislators did not violate the law by enacting the gun control law without a three-day review period. Activist Robert L. Schultz brought the suit against Cuomo and others, claiming the Governor’s fast tracking of the law by issuing a “message of necessity” was a “sham” and provisions of the SAFE Act violate citizens’ right to bear arms.

In his decision, McNamara wrote that the complainants did not sufficiently prove that the SAFE Act violates the Second Amendment. While the U.S. Supreme Court recognizes the right of citizens to keep and bear arms, this right is not absolute and subject to reasonable restrictions. The suit also claims the SAFE Act violates the New York Constitution, which requires the state maintain a militia. McNamara did not find proof of this violation.

The SAFE Act, passed Jan. 14, 2013, requires owners of handguns and assault weapons recertify their permits every five years. The law prohibits gun ownership by felons, persons that have been committed to a mental institution, persons who are the subject of a court order of protection or have served jail time within five years for a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence. The law also bans high-capacity ammunition magazines.

McNamara upheld the use of a “message of necessity” by Cuomo, writing that Cuomo’s message contained some factual statements. Precedence dictates that “the Governor’s conclusion may not be challenged” when accompanied by facts. Cuomo claimed quick action was necessary to protect public safety.

“Some weapons are so dangerous, and some ammunition devices so lethal, that New York State must act without delay to prohibit their continue sale and possession in the state in order to protect its children, first responders and citizens as soon as possible.” — Governor Andrew Cuomo, Jan. 14, 2013

Robert Schultz responded to the court decision today by calling New York judges “curious animals” that ruled not on the law, but what they believed the law should be. Shultz lamented the failure of New York’s judiciary to fulfill its role as a check on the other two branches of government. He likened the Constitution to a “mere thing of clay” in the hands of judges who twist it please those who appoint them.

Schultz is a well-know activist in New York’s North Country. He founded the Tri-county Taxpayers Association (Warren, Washington and Saratoga County) in 1979. He is an initial director of the organization We the People of New York, which was incorporated November 1997. Schultz plans to bring the SAFE Act lawsuit to the court of appeals next week.