Consumer — 01 February 2014

gun and bullets on flagSpecial to American News Report

There’s a big fight brewing in New York and there are guns involved.

One year ago, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the nation’s strictest gun control legislation, called the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act (SAFE).

That triggered a serious response from gun-rights groups, which are aiming to shoot down the law through legislative and legal action. They believe the law violates their 2nd Amendment right to bear arms.

Governor Cuomo added to the fight recently when he said that those who oppose the SAFE Act, are “extreme conservatives” who “have no place in the state of New York because that’s not who New Yorkers are.”

Those are fighting words to many of the estimated 6 million gun owners in the state.

One group, named Shooters Committee on Political Education (SCOPE), is leading the fight for gun owners. They are running television advertisements (you can view here) to publicize a rally they are planning in Albany on April 1, 2014. SCOPE is organizing bus transportation from all major New York metropolitan areas so that Governor Cuomo can “tell us to our face that there is no place for us in this state.”

SCOPE’s objective is to inform legislators about bills that affect gun owners and sportsmen. Their primary goal for 2014 is to get the 6 million New York gun owners to show their strength and take collective legislative action. And, with one-third of the state’s voting age population being gun owners, there may be some significant changes in the 2014 elections.

Other groups, including the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association (NYSRPA), filed a lawsuit in March in an effort to block the SAFE Act. Last month, U.S. District Judge William Skretny, ruled that “New York has presented considerable evidence that its regulation of these weapons is substantially related to the achievement of an important governmental interest,” which dealt a blow to NYSRPA’s effort.

So, why are the gun-rights groups fighting back so hard?

The law makes it illegal to sell or own magazines that hold more than seven rounds of ammunition. Judge Skretny has taken care of this provision for the time being, having ruled it to be “arbitrary”.  More importantly, the law also broadened the definition of an assault rifle and stiffened penalties for violators of these laws.

Before the SAFE Act, guns with two “military-like features”, such as a second grip, or bayonet mounting, were considered assault rifles. Now, any gun with only one military-like feature is classified as an assault rifle, and therefore illegal. Those who oppose the law argue that these are subjective features, and the law directly violates the 2nd amendment to the Constitution.

The law “makes the property of millions of responsible gun owners illegal. Now, I’m a criminal,” a gun owner in the SCOPE television advertisement commented.

It appears that the majority of New Yorkers are on the side of the gun-rights groups. A recent poll by the Rochester Business Journal shows that 62% oppose the SAFE Act, 53% want it repealed, and only 18% say the law should remain as written.

Proponents of the law say it makes New York safer, although the “apples and oranges” statistics neither support nor refute those claims, according to a USA Today story on the topic. Even so, the law’s advocates are up for the fight.

Between a march on Albany, and the threat to challenge the legality of the SAFE Act all the way up to the Supreme Court, this is a fight that New Yorkers can expect to intensify – particularly at the ballot box.

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