Empire State gun owners sue to restore gun rights
New York State gunowners filed suit demanding it restore gun rights to all New Yorkers after the enactment of the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013.
“In early April, we filed a lawsuit against the City of New York that says their administrative code restricts the ability of licensed gun owners to travel outside of New York City with their firearm in violation of the commerce clause,” said Brian T. Stapleton, partner at Goldberg Segalla LLP, an Albany law firm.
The complaint asks the court to permanently enjoin the city from prohibiting persons from traveling beyond its borders to attend a gun range, shooting competition, or to use a lawfully possessed and licensed firearm for the purposes of defending one’s home, person and/or property, he said.
“We believe that the New York City gun licensing procedures are violating our Second Amendment rights,” said Thomas H. King, president of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association. NYSRPA is the state’s largest and the nation’s oldest firearms advocacy organization.
This is the second action initiated this year by NYSRPA. The first action that was filed on Jan. 29 against the State of New York asserts violations against the passage and enforcement of the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act is pending before Judge William M. Skretny in the U.S. District Court, Western District of New York.
With the 90-day initial time to answer the complaint coming to an end, the state has requested a 60-day extension of time to answer, Stapleton said. “Sixty days is way too long.”
“I believe they are dragging their feet,” he said. “Time is one way they can do that.”
The good news is that the state is taking the plaintiffs seriously, he said.
Across the state people are taking their Second Amendment rights seriously as well, said King, who is also a National Rifle Association board member.
“We have received a ton of positive feedback from our membership,” he said. “The process is expensive and members are doing what they can to help.
Pertaining to the action against the state, he said, “We filed a request for a preliminary injunction to stop implementation of the magazine ban.” A preliminary injunction, if granted, would prevent New York State from enforcing the seven-round magazine limit contained in the NY SAFE Act until the conclusion of a trial on the merits.
“We expect a briefing schedule to be provided by the Court in the next three to four weeks,” Stapleton said.
He said that he expects both matters to ultimately be addressed in appellate court. “It’s appellate practice, either way.” Although he was not exactly sure how long the process will take, he estimates a final decision could take 18 to 24 months.
Stapleton said each party is pressed to win. “There is no room for negotiation when gun rights are violated.”
When it comes to New York State Gov. Andrew J. Cuomo, the main architect of the SAFE Act, he will not rest until he takes away our guns, he said. “Cuomo is vehemently anti-gun.”
The governor will fight for extreme gun control to appease his anti-gunner base, King said. “He’s calling us extremists – that’s typical.”
“The fear is that people will be treated like animals,” said J. Scott Sommavilla, president of Westchester County Firearms Owners Association, a co-plaintiff in the claim against the state.
Once people register their firearms with the state, confiscation follows, he said.
“No-knock police officers are known to barge into people’s homes to apprehend their guns,” he said.
“It’s already happening in New York City and California, and in some cases people have been killed by the police,” he said. “A lot of deaths are buried in the media.”
Comprising with the state is not an option, said King.
“When they compromise it’s from a position they picked; when we compromise our rights are abridged,” he said. “We will not give up on our rights.”