Appeals Court Shoots Down SAFE-Act Challenge

4:52 PM, Jul 3, 2013   |    comments
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By Joseph Spector
Albany Bureau Chief

ALBANY A state appeals court Wednesday rejected an attempt by gun-rights groups to block implementation of New York's gun-control law.

Lead plaintiff Robert Schulz and more than 1,000 plaintiffs from around the state sought an injunction in March against the SAFE-Act, the gun-control law adopted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature in January.

A Supreme Court judge in March denied the injunction, and a state Appellate Court on Wednesday in Albany upheld the ruling. The groups could ask the Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, to hear the case, but the court is not required to take it.

Schulz contended that the law was unconstitutional because it was hastily passed by the Legislature through a message of necessity -- a move by a governor that allows a vote on a bill without a three-day waiting period.

The courts have ruled that the message of necessity was legal, and it didn't force lawmakers to act.

"Accordingly, as plaintiff failed to demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits of his claim, his motion for a preliminary injunction was properly denied," the appeals court ruled.

Cuomo pushed the Legislature to adopt the law in the wake of the shootings in Newtown, Conn., and Webster, Monroe County, saying it will make the state safer. The law expands New York's assaults-weapons ban, requires additional reporting to the state on gun ownership and lowers the number of bullets allowed in a magazine from 10 to seven.

Gun-rights groups have assailed the law, and they've held regular protests at the Capitol. The Rifle and Pistol Association, the state's arm of the National Rifle Association, is also suing to have the law overturned, and the state's Sheriffs Association has joined the lawsuit.

"Sheriffs have been steadfast in their view that although there are some beneficial portions of the SAFE Act, many of its provisions are unworkable or unconstitutional," the sheriffs said in a statement in May.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is defending the state in the lawsuits, has said the law is constitutional.

"The SAFE Act is a comprehensive law that is making New York communities safer, while ensuring constitutional protections to responsible gun owners," Schneiderman said in a statement in March.

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