Legal challenge to portions of the NY SAFE act launched

Legal challenge to portions of the NY SAFE act launched
(AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

The New York SAFE Act was a hastily, in the midst of the night, passed and signed piece of unconstitutional legislation. New Yorkers have been living under the yoke of the measures of the SAFE Act and there’s been all kinds of repercussions. On December 30th, the Second Amendment Foundation and Firearms Policy Coalition filed a lawsuit named Lane v. James challenging portions of the law.

A federal lawsuit supported by the Second Amendment Foundation and Firearms Policy Coalition has been filed in New York, challenging that state’s ban on so-called “assault weapons.” Plaintiffs are represented by SAF and FPC attorneys.

The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, on behalf of New York residents J. Mark Lane of Larchmont and James Sears of Irving. They are represented by attorneys Cody Wisniewski, Adam Kraut, who is also SAF executive director, and Nicolas J. Rotsko.

Named as defendants are New York State Attorney General Letitia James, State Police Supt. Steven A. Nigrelli and Westchester County District Attorney Miriam E. Rocah, in their official capacities.

This challenge to provisions of the law comes just a little over a week after a New York Supreme Court judge ruled that extreme risk protective orders, aka red flag seizure orders, are unconstitutional.

…the “Temporary Extreme Risk Protection Order” (TERPO) and “Extreme Risk Protection Order” (ERPO) are deemed to be unconstitutional by this Court as CPLR Article 63-a is presently drafted. It can not be stated clearly enough that the Second Amendment is not a second class right, nor should it ever be treated as such.

Accordingly, it it is hereby

ORDERED, that Article 63-a of the New York Civil Practice and Rules is deemed unconstitutional; and it is further

ORDERED, that the above-titled petition is hereby dismissed, in it’s entirety, and any temporary order or final order issued by this Court pursuant to the instant action is, hereby, vacated.

Speculation on this news points out that this ruling could affect the entirety of the SAFE Act. Knowing that we have a different lens to view all of these laws through, the plaintiffs have a really great shot of completely dismantling the law. Further, we must be mindful that the Supreme Court of the United States issued a Grant, Vacate, and Remand to so-called assault weapon bans, basically ordering the lower courts to do a do over, because they got it wrong the first time.

“The issue in this lawsuit is very plain,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “Both Sears and Lane are law-abiding New York residents who wish to own modern semiautomatic sport-utility rifles such as the AR-15, for lawful purposes including target shooting and home defense. Such rifles are in common use across the country, yet in the Empire State, citizens face the threat of arrest, confiscation, prosecution, fined and imprisonment for lawfully using such rifles.”

The lawsuit alleges that when the Second Circuit previously upheld New York’s semi-auto ban in 2015, the court relied on a two-step test that has since been rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court in its June Bruen decision as “one step too many.” Because the Second Circuit concluded that so-called “assault weapons” at issue are in common use, it should have held the New York ban violates the Second Amendment. This new action will allow the Second Circuit to correct the situation.

The complaint seeks a declaratory judgment that Lane and Sears have a fundamental right to keep and bear arms, and that the ban on common semiautomatic firearms by New York law is a violation of rights guaranteed by the Second and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiffs are also asking for a permanent injunction on the enforcement of the New York ban.

“We’re simply asking the court to uphold the Constitution,” Gottlieb stated.

As noted, joining the Second Amendment Foundation in this venture is the Firearms Policy Coalition. In a statement issued after announcing the lawsuit’s filing, FPC Director of Legal Operations Bill Sack pointed out “The SAFE Act has infringed on the rights of millions of New Yorkers for far too long. The Second Amendment protects all arms in common use for lawful purposes – even those with the scary-yet-arbitrary cosmetic features the drafters of the SAFE Act wrongly vilified.”

The duo of the Second Amendment Foundation and Firearms Policy Coalition having been paired up makes one hell of a litigation machine. With challenges to unconstitutional laws on every coast, these two organizations are truly doing God’s work. With every bit of luck, and if the courts actually decide to respect the Constitution, the good people of the Empire State will be liberated from the unconstitutional squeeze that the SAFE Act has placed on them. We’ll be watching closely the progress of this lawsuit and be sure to issue updates on any news as it may become available.