SAFE Act approved by Federal Court of Appeals–What’s Next?

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 weapons-banthe 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.

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About pystew

Retired Teacher, political science geek, village trustee. I lean a little left, but like a good political discussion. My blog, the New NY 23rd (http://newny23rd) is about discussing the issues facing the people of our new congressional district. Let's hear all sides of the issues, not just what the candidates want us to hear.
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13 Responses to SAFE Act approved by Federal Court of Appeals–What’s Next?

  1. josephurban says:

    Reasonable regulations of any right are acceptable under the Constitution. I doubt that the SCOTUS will bother with this case.

  2. Robert Kriegar says:

    I don’t consider a strong ruling in support of the second amendment to be “far right”. This is a clear infringement upon the right to keep and bear arms. Most particularly in light of the discussion in the era in which this amendment was created. The founding fathers clearly foresaw that there would be further development in small arms, and were very clear that the right to keep and bear arms would not be infringed upon.

    “Feelgood” legislation, and authoritarian and arbitrary limitations on this right clearly, and serious erode it. One might as well repeal it entirely, and be done wit it.

  3. josephurban says:

    Robert. The 2nd Amendment has always been clear. People have the right to keep and bear arms. That is well established. But the state also has the duty to “regulate” those arms. A part of the 2nd Amendment often ignored. (A well-regulated militia….) As with any right, there are reasonable limits. The right to keep arms does not mean the right to keep ANY arms. Laws are established to try do two things. Guarantee individual liberty AND guarantee the health and safety of society as a whole. (As stated in the Preamble to the US Constitution).
    The question which the courts seem to be considering are these. Does the law impose an undue hardship on gun owners? Does the law prevent gun ownership? Does the law prevent a gun owner from exercising his reasonable right to possess a weapon?
    Evidently the court does not see this as an excessive hardship.

  4. Steve says:

    The problem I have with the safe act is trying to create a new category (assault weapon) when clearly an ar15 is not an assault rifle but classified as assault weapon? It’s still a rifle and calling in the latter would also make it the former, which it is not. An Ar15 type rifle functions the same as a semi auto hunting rifle. How does removing a pistol grip or muzzle brake save lives?

    • pystew says:

      Steve, Both Court decisions, the 2nd Circuit Court and the Western District Court of New York pointed out that their job is to see if the law is constitutional…not how effective it is. The Western Court decision included: “Whether regulating firearms is wise or warranted is not a judicial question; it is a political one. This Court’s function is thus limited to resolving whether New York’s elected representatives acted within the confines of the United States Constitution in passing the SAFE Act.”

      IMHO the Repeal Activists should try to amend the law instead of repealing it. They are embolden by “experts”, including our congressman, declaring the law is unconstitutional. If you want change you should work with the NYS Legislature. Have you noticed that the upstate legislators elected in 2014 didn’t succeed in changing the SAFE Act? I know it is not popular, but a little old fashion “I’ll rub your back if you rub mind” with downstate legislators could work wonders on revising the SAFE Act.

    • whungerford says:

      I would gladly trade ineffective regulations for more effective ones, but I don’t understand why the AR-15 would be valued by hunters in any of its variants.

      • Steve says:

        I know a lot of people who use them on coyotes and lots of people use them on hogs in the south.. An AR is an effective hunting rifle but it’s personal preference

    • josephurban says:

      Steve. I am by no means an arms expert but here is what I have concluded after some research. A pistol grip allows the gun user to hold the weapon more solidly in one hand while firing with the other. The result is that he can fire more rounds more rapidly and more accurately. The muzzle break, which reduces recoil, also allows the gun user to fire more rapidly (as there is less elevation of the weapon after each shot). These devices do not have any effect on the first shot (good hunters need only one(lol)) but have an effect of making the weapon less lethal when someone wants to shoot multiple rounds effectively . (Like a terror attack or a school shooting or gang warfare).
      My take on this is two fold. It probably has the overall effect of making the weapon less “user-friendly” for non expert marksmen. (Like kids or someone who is maybe angry or depressed and not really that stable) And it also give the police and prosecutors more tools when they make arrests (especially in gang areas) since they can add additional weapons charges to criminals who possess and use these devices.
      As I said, not an expert by any means, but these seem to to the rationale.

      • josephurban says:

        I meant they make the weapon “more lethal” not “less lethal”.

        • Steve says:

          I would hesitantly agree, perhaps in the hands of a trained soldier. To the average school shooter or what have you, aiming isn’t much if a priority when you are inside a building. I would like Cuomo to show statistics showing how many lives lost from “assault weapons”, pre and post safe act…

      • Steve says:

        The same hand that holds the pistol grip fires the weapon. These features make a difference in combat when you are being fired upon but in a school scenario with kids it makes no difference. That being said, murders with rifles make up less than 4% of crimes, murders with this style of rifle, even less.. It’s a feel good law at best..

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