CREDIT: Associated Press
A federal judge this week upheld most of the major provisions in New York’s post-Sandy Hook gun reform law, upholding an expansion of bans on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines. The ruling, likely the first of many as gun rights advocates ramp up resistance to New York’s SAFE Act, held that most provisions of the law do not impermissibly burden the Second Amendment, particularly because New York relied upon a wealth of evidence that links large-capacity magazines and assault weapons to a greater death toll.
“This Court’s role is ‘to assure that, in formulating its judgments, New York has drawn reasonable inferences based on substantial evidence,” U.S. District Judge William Skretny wrote. Skretny cited the Newtown, Conn., school shooting as the most recent example of a mass shooting in which assault weapons are “used to devastating effect in mass shootings,” and noted that the assault weapons restriction “does not totally disarm New York’s citizens; and it does not meaningfully jeopardize their right to self-defense.” Skretny did, however, strike down a provision limiting the number of rounds to seven, finding that the limit was arbitrary and unsupported by evidence that it protects public safety.
The ruling is one of several to uphold new gun law reforms, citing the U.S. Supreme Court decision District of Columbia v. Heller, which reiterated that that the right to bear arms is far from unlimited. In October, a California appeals court upheld that state’s ban on semi-automatic rifles, citing Heller‘s conclusion that ownership of “[d]angerous and unusual weapons” is not protected by the Constitution. And earlier that month, a federal judge refused to block Maryland’s new gun reform bill.
In the year since the Newtown shooting, 39 state laws have tightened restrictions on guns, but another 79 have loosened them. New York was the first state to pass new gun legislation after Newtown mass shooting, and stricter assault weapons bans and magazine restrictions were among the law’s signature provisions.