BUFFALO — A federal judge largely upheld New York's strict gun-control law Tuesday, ruling it mostly did not violate the second amendment while striking down a provision that prevented gun owners from loading more than seven rounds into their weapons.
U.S. District Court Judge William Skrenty ruled that the NY SAFE Act's ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines furthered the state's public safety interest while not encroaching on New Yorker's right to bear arms.
"[The law] does not totally disarm New York’s citizens; and it does not meaningfully jeopardize their right to self-defense," he wrote in a 54-page decision.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the SAFE (Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement) into law in January 2013, a month after a school shooting in Newtown, Conn., left 20 children dead.
The act gave New York the strictest gun laws in the country, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines while also preventing convicted felons and potentially unstable mental health patients from purchasing weapons. The law also required that handgun and assault-weapon owners re-certify them every five years and banned the sale of ammunition over the Internet, requiring that all ammunition sales be done face to face.
A coalition of gun advocates, incuding the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association and the Westchester County Firearms Owners Association, challenged the law, arguing in court that it was vague and unconstitutional.
Skrenty did strike down four portions of the law, including a provision that forbade handgun owners from loading more than seven rounds into their magazines. Skrenty ruled that the seven-round limit was "arbitrary" and put law-abiding citizens at a disadvantage because 10-round magazines were not outlawed.
A provision banning pistols that are "versions" of automatic weapons was struck down because Skrenty said it did not inform an ordinary person as to what conduct was banned.
Skrenty also struck down a clause of the law that related to large-capacity ammunition feeding devices made before September 1994 and a provision regulating muzzle "brakes" due to grammatical errors.