Even though a federal judge in New York State has upheld many of the provisions of one of the nation’s toughest gun control laws, the measure might not be enforced.
Politicians and experts in the state say that a large percentage of law enforcement officers will not enforce what is known as the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act. It bans so-called assault rifles, and requires those who possess them to register them with the state by April 15.
“The rank and file troopers don’t want anything to do with it,” State Assemblyman Bill Nojay (R-Pittsford) said. “I don’t know of a single sheriff upstate who is going to enforce it.
“If you don’t have the troopers and you don’t have the sheriffs, who have you got? You’ve got [Gov.] Andrew Cuomo pounding on the table in Albany,” Nojay noted in The Troy Record. Cuomo signed the law.
Of New York’s 62 counties, 52 counties have passed resolutions opposing the SAFE Act.
News reports indicate that a large number of elected county sheriffs in New York are planning to not enforce the SAFE Act. Opposition to the measure is strong in rural areas, and even many Democrats are against it.
“I know a few hundred of these (gun owners),” Nojay added. “I don’t know of any of them that are going to be registered.”
Nojay previously said that, according to gun control advocates, the SAFE Act is “not the end. It’s the beginning.”
Much of SAFE Act Upheld
Law enforcement’s refusal to cooperate could effectively make a federal judge’s ruling to uphold most of the provisions of the law meaningless. U.S. Chief District Judge William M. Skretny Tuesday upheld two of the provisions of the law.
Skretny ruled that the law’s ban on so-called assault weapons and magazines with a capacity of greater than 10 rounds were constitutional. The judge struck down a provision of the law that would have made it a crime to have more than seven bullets in a weapon.
“The majority of the challenged provisions withstand constitutional scrutiny,” Skretny noted in his opinion. “Accordingly, the act does not violate the Second Amendment.”
The major issue in the case is whether the Constitution gives government the authority to regulate ammunition clips, legal experts said. Skretny – a nominee of George H.W. Bush — believes states have the authority, but opponents disagree and will appeal the case.
“I think there’s going to be appeals on both sides,” attorney Brian T. Stapleton told The Buffalo News. Stapleton challenged the SAFE Act on behalf of the New York Pistol & Rifle Association.
An Important Gun Control Ruling
Some attorneys think that the Pistol & Rifle Association’s case will be an important one that will go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Buffalo News reported that virtually every major gun-rights and gun-control group in the country has filed an amicus curiae or friend-of-the-court brief in the case.
Skretny cited statistics that claimed 2 percent of the guns in the nation are assault weapons.
“It does not totally disarm New York’s citizens,” Skretny wrote of the SAFE Act, “and it does not meaningfully jeopardize their right to self-defense.”
It isn’t clear how the Supreme Court would rule on the SAFE ACT. In the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller case, the court overturned restrictions on handguns in Washington D.C., saying it inhibited an individual’s right to self-defense.
The Heller ruling includes a clause that may support Srketny’s thinking.
“Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority. “It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”
It looks like the focus of the nationwide gun-control battle could be New York State.