Empire State gun owners sue to block state’s gun ban
Leading gun rights groups put New York State on notice for violating the U.S. and New York State Constitutions for passage and enforcement of the NYS SAFE Act 2013.
“On January 29, we served a Notice of Claim on the Attorney General of the State of New York,” said Brian Stapelton, partner at Goldberg Segalla LLP, an Albany law firm. “This is the jurisdictional prerequisite for filing a lawsuit against a municipal body.”
The state has 90 days to respond, he said. “Thereafter, we will challenge the unconstitutional SAFE Act as quickly and aggressively as procedures permit.”
“The SAFE Act is a de-facto gun ban. It violates not only the Second Amendment, but also Federal law and other sections of the Constitution,” said J. Scott Sommavilla, President of Westchester County Firearms Owners Association, a co-plaintiff in the claim. “The law has so many holes, it begs for legal action.”
“Gun owners are angry that their right to purchase and sell firearms is severely restricted in violation of the Commerce clause,” he said.
Most manufacturers do not carry the current limit of 7-round magazines for the semi- automatic hand gun. Since federal law limits magazines to10-rounds, that is the base for manufacturers, he said.
The result is gun distributors will not sell their firearms to residents in New York State because of the possible liability, he said. “It’s just not worth it for them.”
Sommavilla suggests that gun owners feel disenfranchised by their representatives who failed to consider public input, the Constitution or common sense into the law. “We have to wonder whether it was intentional, ignorant, or both.”
Thomas H. King, President of the N.Y.S. Rifle & Pistol Association and co-plaintiff said, “We hired the best Second Amendment lawyers in the country.”
“This feel good legislation proposed to convince people that something done would make us safer, only takes firearms out of the hands of lawful citizens, and does nothing to keep us safe,” he said.
“We are sure that moving forward, gun manufactures, gun rights groups, and individuals will be joining us in this lawsuit,” he said.
The Notice of Claim says that plaintiffs do not seek monetary damages, but rather injunctive and declaratory relief against the ongoing enforcement of the NYS SAFE Act.
It says that the law violates fundamental constitutional rights to lawfully possess, keep, bear and use firearms for self-defense and other lawful purposes; violates constitutional rights to privacy; and impermissibly interferes with and infringes upon fundamental constitutional rights to travel both intra-state and inter-state with lawfully possessed firearms.
The notice states that current law deprives the plaintiffs of life, liberty and/or property without due process of law and it deprives the plaintiffs of the equal protection of the laws, in violation of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Plaintiffs also allege that the law passed is being continuously enforced with the ongoing tortious intent to harass, harm, impede, interfere with, disrupt, interrupt, and/or destroy the present and future business and commercial activities of those plaintiffs who engage in the design of, manufacture of, distribution of, sale of, possession of, and/or training in the safe and lawful use of firearms, ammunition, and/or large capacity feeding devices.
A recent Quinnipiac University poll shows that a once popular Democratic Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has a significantly reduced approval rating.
“The unlawfulness of the SAFE Act is resonating with the people,” said King who is also a National Rifle Association board member.
“There are two different cultures in New York State, the New York City culture verses the rest of the state,” he said. “There are a number of people in New York City who are vehemently against guns.”
“A very pro-gun constituency wants their voices heard,” he said. “We think our efforts will be effective.”
Emails from Human Events to the Attorney General’s press office were not answered.