On Monday (10/19/15), the Second Circuit Court of Appeals released their opinion on the constitutionality of the New York State “SAFE Act” and Connecticut’s “Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety Act”. The Court upheld lower courts’ decisions that New York’s and Connecticut’s Gun Acts. (Follow these links to see summaries of the Connecticut Law and the NY SAFE Act or any other State’s Gun Laws)
The decisions focused on the prohibition of “Assault Weapons”, the Seven Round limit and the Muzzle Brakes. Using the Supreme Court’s “Heller v District of Columbia” and other Circuit Court decisions that “the prohibition of semi‐automatic rifles and large capacity magazines does not effectively disarm individuals or substantially affect their ability to defend themselves.”
This Court ruled that large capacity magazines can be prohibited, but agrees with the lower court that a seven round limit is an arbitrary, unrealistic number, and accepts that the limit could be ten.
This Court disagrees with the lower court decision that ruled a “muzzle break” should not be included on the list of prohibited attachment military-style features. The conflicting opinion is based on a mis-spelling in the SAFE Act; the terms “muzzle breaks” seemed unconstitutionally vague. The correct term is “muzzle brakes”, which is a forearm attachment that reduces recoil pressure. The Circuit Court now includes Muzzle Brakes as a feature that added to a semi-automatic rifle with a detachable magazine would make it an illegal Assault Weapon.
The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association (NYSRPA), one of the plaintiffs vow to take this case to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court does decide on which cases they will rule on, but one criteria that they use is if lower court have ruled differently on similar cases. That happened on the Marriage Equality decision. In June the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Illinois allowed a Chicago-area assault weapon and magazine ban to stand. The case, Friedman v. Highland Park is being appealed.
Sunday’s (10/18) Huffington-Post reported that “The (Supreme) court could say as early as Monday (October 26) whether it will hear the (Friedman v Highland) case. If they decide not to hear the Friedman v Highland case, they probably won’t hear our SAFE Act case. That would in effect would declare the SAFE Act constitutional.
Even though the Supreme Court is “conservative” they have recently ruled against issues supported by the the far right. Marriage equalities and Obamacare being the most recent examples. Will ruling the SAFE Act is constitutional silent the Repeal The SAFE Act activists? I don’t think so.