Gun Control

Judge Upholds New York Gun Controls, Except for Crazy Rule on Gun Rounds

|

What are you complaining about? You can still have muskets, right?

A federal judge ruled today that the hastily-written-and-passed gun control laws pushed through in New York as a response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings are, for the most part, legal. Happy New Year, Second Amendment supporters in the Empire State! From the Associated Press:

A federal judge on Tuesday upheld most of New York's new gun control law, rejecting arguments that its bans on large-capacity magazines and the sale of some semi-automatic rifles violate Second Amendment rights.

Judge William Skretny in Buffalo concluded those provisions are constitutional because they're related to achieving an "important governmental interest" in public safety. Those two features make guns more lethal, he wrote, citing testimony submitted in the case.

The law "applies only to a subset of firearms with characteristics New York state has determined to be particularly dangerous and unnecessary for self-defense," Skretny wrote. "It does not totally disarm New York's citizens, and it does not meaningfully jeopardize their right to self-defense."

Skretny upheld the ban on magazines that hold more than 10 bullets, but he struck down a restriction on gun owners loading more than seven bullets in legal 10-round magazines. He said that appears to be "an arbitrary number."

Those who have followed the passage of this law, like Reason's Jacob Sullum, know that that this "arbitrary number" exists because Gov. Mario Cuomo tried to establish a maximum magazine limit of seven bullets, without realizing that seven-bullet magazines are nearly non-existent. So instead he created this silly rule that gun-owners can only put seven bullets in their 10-round magazines.

Follow this story and more at Reason 24/7.

Spice up your blog or Website with Reason 24/7 news and Reason articles. You can get the widgets here. If you have a story that would be of interest to Reason's readers please let us know by emailing the 24/7 crew at 24_7@reason.com, or tweet us stories at @reason247

NEXT: Four Found Dead in Calif. in Apparent Murder-Suicide

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Seven’s an arbitrary number, but ten isn’t? Makes perfect sense, everyone knows it’s scientifically proven that more than ten means more deaths, right?

    1. Seven in Jewish numerology represents completeness — clearly, the judge wanted to prevent NY state from establishing a religion through its gun laws.

    2. Exactly – what idiotic logic – any number chosen for any reason is necessarily arbitrary at the margins.

      Why speed limit of 65, why not 67?

      Same thing with boundaries – the closet elementary school to a house or two ago was 5 blocks away – however the school my daughter was slated to enter was 5 miles away.

      etc/etc/etc

      Not to mention – if the judge were honestly looking at which rules under the new law are arbitrary and which are not… unless the government had/has specific research showing a significant difference in violence between 7 rounds or 10 rounds (which we know they don’t) – then not any single individual anywhere can rationally determine what number(s) are arbitrary and which are not.

      & by no one, I mean the judge, lawyers, people, government, cops… no one.

      But of course that won’t stop them, because they know, even absent any proof, that guns are bad, guns owners evil/mentally unstable/compensating/etc, therefore the restriction on magazine size is an obvious.

      Therefore, 7 arbitrary, 10 not.

      FWIW – IMHO, I think how the judge really got there was a smart thought – which is allowing a law calling for no more than 7 rounds in 10 round clips would be used by LEOs to increase unnecessary searches.

      However, since he should’ve said the entire BS was unConstitutional and he didn’t want to say that – he made up an idea than 7 is arbitrary, but 10 is not.

      1. Perhaps 65 was chosen instead of 67 because it is fairly easy for a driver to identify the halfway point between 60 and 70 on the speedometer (many speedometer faces have such tick-marks between the numbered speeds already). If 60 is too slow but 70 too fast, it is the natural, human thing to “split the difference.” That’s still arbitrary, but at least consistent with common human experience.

  2. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, one of these days some clown slaps together a flamethrower with common household items (you could make a real pretty one shopping at Home Depot), then wanders into the theater/school/Burger King.

    What will the nannies do?

    1. Easy.. outlaw Burger King and Home Depot (non-union jobs.. who cares?) 🙂

    2. some clown slaps together a flamethrower with common household items (you could make a real pretty one shopping at Home Depot)

      I set one up to clear weeds and brush on my farm before planting clover for the livestock. A sprayer with a metal wand and a piece of burning fatwood taped to the end works great. It’s a lot cheaper than Roundup too.

      1. A flame thrower, a lance and a mace?

        We need lance control!

    3. Or they could just buy a real one. They’re completely unrestricted AFAIK, as they’re considered agricultural implements.

  3. Ah. The “important governmental interest” in public safety exception clause of the second amendment.

    Who could possibly claim the law unconstitutional?

    1. Well… if you read important governmental interest in public safety & understand the important governmental interest is to disarm the populace, then all gun control laws are Constitutional.

      /judge

  4. The whole argument about “high-capacity” magazines is ridiculous, but it gives the bureaucrats and congress-critters something to do so they can claim they “support common-sense gun laws” and similar tripe. Yes, high-capacity magazines, with the number of rounds being an arbitrary number which varies from State to State, were used in about 30 crimes last year. Of course the other 40 million “high capacity” magazines in the nation were not used in any crimes. The total number of homicides by ALL long-guns last year was something like 385, as compared to many thousands by handguns. And that number of “deaths by criminals using long-guns” includes grandpa’s single-shot shotgun, the scores of millions of 22 rim-fire rifles, duck- guns, deer rifles, skeet-guns, target rifles, etc. More homicides were committed using hammers and such last year (blunt force), than by “assault rifles.”

    1. I wonder if you break the numbers down you’ll find cops playing soldier shoot more unarmed people with ‘assault’ rifles than the civilians do.

    2. They don’t care about the facts.

      They don’t care about the facts, and they don’t care about the consequences.

      They support gun control for the same reason they favor smoking bans. It doesn’t have anything to do with the consequences and has everything to do with being on the right side of a culture war they’re waging against an army of straw men they’ve created in their constituent’s heads.

  5. Ah. The “unnecessary for self-defense,” and “It does not totally disarm New York’s citizens” exception clauses to the second amendment.

    1. Agreed, not just a BS reason, but “unnecessary for self-defense” literally has no meaning until after an interaction requiring self-defense is over.

      For instance, is any gun necessary for an able-bodied male to stop an 80 year old, 4 ft 80 pound unarmed women from trying a home invasion?

      Additionally, how many hunting rifles would fall firmly into the “unnecessary” category?

      Granted, it also requires a “compelling public interest” component, but since they just defined 7 as arbitrary and 10 as not, I would think a great number of great hunting rifles fall under this category.

      Consider as a group those high powered, single shot, bolt action rifles for big game. Seems those are unnecessary for self-defense.

      Contemplate all the people that agree with this crap though… where they are actively asking for the government to take more control over their daily lives, while simultaneously asking the government to disarm them.

      Not sure, but I’ve think I’ve read in history where that doesn’t work out well.

      1. Nope, and if said 80lb woman is the potential VICTIM of the home invasion, no gun can be too powerful, nor hold too many rounds.

  6. “Judge William Skretny in Buffalo concluded those provisions are constitutional because they’re related to achieving an “important governmental interest” in public safety.”

    The governmental interest in public safety, if that wasn’t explicitly written in one of the other amendments, God only knows what might happen.

    Meanwhile, the courts are siding with the ACLU in its fight to stop bakers from exercising their First Amendment rights.

    Kelo, the individual mandate and penaltax, etc., etc.

    Abandon all hope. The courts are not our friends. We live in an age of paternalism. The only rights that are being protected right now are the ones our parental overlords can’t violate for practical reasons.

    1. I guess in your world Heller and CU didn’t happen.

      1. Broken clocks. Twice a day.

        I can see the trend, and the courts just aren’t there to protect our rights anymore.

        That’s what libertarian government is for! To protect our rights. And as a patriotic American, I still tend to project that on our fine American experiment myself. But it’s becoming increasingly obvious to me that the experiment has failed.

        Our present government doesn’t exist to protect our rights. Elections and the courts exist mainly to legitimize the horrible shit our politicians are doing to us. Delegitimizing both of those institutions is probably our only hope.

        I can see the trend, and it isn’t about to get better until people stop expecting the courts to protect our rights. The courts are nothing to fall back on. The courts certainly aren’t going to save us from our politicians. It’s a false hope. The cake is a lie. If we stop depending on them, maybe things will start to get better.

        1. In the real world, the courts have been getting better for us, not worse, especially SCOTUS. Most of the worst precedents were set eons ago.

          If we stop depending on them, maybe things will start to get better.

          And if I grow wings I won’t need a car. How you’ve managed to get your head so far in the clouds is beyond me, but I and the rest of down-to-Earth libertarian crowd intend to use every tool we can to our advantage, especially courts.

          1. Are you on e, or something? This optimism of yours is creeping me out.

            1. Cytotoxic is more gay than he is optimistic.

              1. Funniest thing I’ve read here in a long time.

          2. Most of the worst precedents were set eons ago.

            Sure, many bad precedents existed before recent court decisions, but the penaltax decision which has made it legal to force people to buy things & the one where they decided individuals growing plants for individual use was still interstate commerce were both very recent and very, very bad.

            I’m sure there are others – but I think you give the current/recent court(s) too much credit – they are willing collaborators in the US trend of ending individual freedoms and destroying the economy.

            1. The ACA decision was bad but it could have been a lot worse. There were a lot of interesting strings attached to that decision.

          3. “And if I grow wings I won’t need a car. How you’ve managed to get your head so far in the clouds is beyond me, but I and the rest of down-to-Earth libertarian crowd intend to use every tool we can to our advantage, especially courts.”

            There’s nothing unrealistic or pie-in-the-sky about it.

            I’m just saying that we have to delegitimize the government in people’s minds. Trying to work within the system is a sucker’s errand. They want you to think that your participation means that you matter, that you have some say. The joke’s on you!

            The idea that we need to concentrate on delegitimizing the courts and the election process in our fellow American’s minds isn’t unrealistic. The people with their head in the clouds are the people who think that we can change this system through our participation.

            The idea that if some court or the Supreme Court said something, then that’s means it’s right is pure evil. It’s almost as bad as suggesting that the shit our politicians do to us is perfectly legitimate–because they were popularly elected.

            That’s all garbage. That’s having your head in the clouds.

            1. The idea that if some court or the Supreme Court said something, then that’s means it’s right is pure evil. It’s almost as bad as suggesting that the shit our politicians do to us is perfectly legitimate–because they were popularly elected.

              You’re attacking a strawman. I advocate working without and withing the system for change; we cannot afford to choose one or the other.

              The idea that we need to concentrate on delegitimizing the courts and the election process in our fellow American’s minds isn’t unrealistic.

              Yes it is. Seriously, put away the ganja. This is Epi-level retarded.

              They want you to think that your participation means that you matter, that you have some say. The joke’s on you!

              That would be news to the NRA.

              1. “You’re attacking a strawman.”

                I wasn’t talking about you in that statement. I was talking about the American people.

                They think that if the Supreme Court says something, that means it’s right.

                They think that what our politicians do to us and our rights is okay–because the politicians won a popularity contest.

                The correct strategy to combat those problems is not to emphasize the legitimacy of the courts and elections.

                The way to combat that is delegitimize the courts and elections in the American people’s minds.

                Our biggest problem is the American people. And if that’s true, then electing the right politicians or appointing judges with the right approaches doesn’t even address our biggest problem.

              2. “The idea that we need to concentrate on delegitimizing the courts and the election process in our fellow American’s minds isn’t unrealistic.”

                The changes we’re looking for almost never happen from the top.

                It’s like with the Drug War or getting the government to recognize gay marriage. Look at Barack Obama. For two years of his first campaign, and almost four years in the White House, his position on gay marriage was indistinguishable from that of the Southern Baptist Convention’s.

                That all changed when a critical mass of people’s attitudes changed. When it became politically expedient for him to change his mind, that’s when he changed his mind. Same thing with the Drug War.

                If Obama doesn’t raid recreational dispensaries in Colorado, it won’t be because he’s making a bold political statement and getting out in front of the battle for legalization. He’ll only dial back on recreational marijuana because people’s attitudes have changed.

                It’s that way on every issue I can think of. Jim Crow didn’t end because some politicians were brave and bold. Jim Crow ended because a sufficient number of people in the country started to find it unacceptable. First people’s attitudes change, then comes the changes in policy and law.

                Don’t put the cart before the horse.

          4. “Most of the worst precedents were set eons ago.”

            Yes, which is why the progs argue for a Living Constitution and Dead Precedent.

        2. the courts just aren’t there to protect our rights anymore.

          They never were.

          -jcr

          1. And yet we keep arguing about the Constitution as if it matters what it says.

            The courts are just using the idea of the Constitution to legitimize themselves.

            If the courts aren’t there to protect our Constitutional rights, then we should start making fun of everything they say–like they’re the ones who’ve been deciding who gets the Nobel Peace Prize.

            When the SC makes a bad decision, I get really disappointed. How could the reality suddenly be that the government can make me eat Broccoli? But that isn’t the way to react.

            My reaction should be more like, “Oh, they’re givin’ the Peace Prize to someone like Kissinger, Arafat, or Obama again? That’s hilarious! Does anyone take them seriously anymore?”

        3. Ken, we have allowed a political class to develop in this country that is indistinguishable from the vile aristocracy that we overthrew by revolution. We have allowed it to fester unchecked and now we are faced with worse than King George and his minions.

          We can put a dagger in the heart of this political class and kill it with one blow; term limits. Two terms, they are out. Not two terms in this office and two in that office, but two terms in any combination of offices, then go get a job. And no gold plated retirement and they get tossed into the same healthcare system that we do.

          that single measure would turn Washington upside down.

          1. One term, with intervening votes of confidence to keep them loyal to the constituency.

            A man who doesn’t need to get reelected has no use for special interest money.

          2. As long as you have the same people with the same screwed up heads voting, you’re gonna keep getting the same kinds of candidates.

            We’ve gotta change the voters.

            If terms limits pushed out Liz Warren tomorrow, chances are that the people of Massachusetts would vote for someone very much like her.

            If we got rid of Feinstein tomorrow, in California, the chances of someone like her getting elected to take her place would be very high.

            Not being able to fix the country by way of elections shouldn’t be entirely discouraging, though. If the only way we could change things was through elections, that would be discouraging. If the things we said to each other at work, home, around the poker table, and elsewhere didn’t matter at all, that would be discouraging.

            We had a president resign because of what everybody was saying about him. All the world’s vicious dictators are scared to death of what their own people are saying about them.

      2. I guess in your world Heller and CU didn’t happen.

        It seems that Heller didn’t happen. At least as far as the citizens of NY and this judge are concerned.

        1. “Reapply as needed”

          1. I don’t really understand what you mean, but I will say that the heller decision is small comfort to someone who’s been arrested, charged with a felony, lost their job, and went bankrupt to defend themselves.

            1. I mean to say we will have to take it to the SC again and they will lay the smackdown again.

              1. Perhaps, or perhaps this bunch of robed high priests of the law will decide against it. Or abridge it. Or kick it back down to the state, because the clear letter and intent of the Constitution sometimes needs be sacrificed to ensure that expedient legislation on hot-button issues isn’t compromised.

  7. Skretny upheld the ban on magazines that hold more than 10 bullets, but he struck down a restriction on gun owners loading more than seven bullets in legal 10-round magazines. He said that appears to be “an arbitrary number.”

    “You mean some guns carry more rounds than my 1911?”

    1. 90% of everything the legislature does is arbitrary.

      Big Daddy decides the legislature gets to rewrite our Second Amendment rights because they won a popularity contest, but out of the other side of his mouth, he doesn’t like the seven number–because that’s arbitrary?

    2. First thing I thought of with the 7-round magazine limit was my old Colt Gold Cup. So I pulled it out and took it down to ring a few steel targets. Third shot and the damn factory roll pin gave out and I searched for the parts of the rear sights for over an hour. It has a solid pin in it now.

  8. Well, my .88 Magnum only carries 6 bullets, but that’s all I need. Who needs ten bullets?

    It doesn’t shoot up schools, it shoots through schools.

  9. Gotta love those useless kangaroo court judges.

    http://www.BeinAnon.tk

    1. Nice comment, TK!

  10. “Judge William Skretny in Buffalo concluded those provisions are constitutional because they’re related to achieving an “important governmental interest” in public safety.”

    Ummmmm….no, they are not. What utter horse shit. No part of the constitution is designed or written in any way to further government interests, in fact, just the opposite. The citizen’s interest is paramount in every part of it, with much of it written to hobble and restrain government.

    “The law “applies only to a subset of firearms with characteristics New York state has determined to be particularly dangerous and unnecessary for self-defense,” Skretny wrote. “It does not totally disarm New York’s citizens, and it does not meaningfully jeopardize their right to self-defense.”

    So the cops, having no need for these unnecessary characteristics, will be turning theirs in tomorrow, right?
    Oh wait, they shit purple circles around themselves when they found out there was no exemption in the law for them. Again, this is utter horse shit.

    1. Some of you, up thread, were asking why the arbitrary number seven for the magazine limit. It is not arbitrary. Most auto mags hold more than 7, even a standard single stack 1911 in 45 acp holds 8. Putting the limit at 7 means cops have the excuse to check people and then charge anyone they claim to have caught with more than 7 rounds in the mag. That number was chosen in a very deliberate, calculated way. The law was written to criminalize people.

      This is evil undiluted. Pure tyranny.

      Hey Judge William Skretny, resign your bench and then go drink a quart of Drano.

    2. If you read the BoR literally and apply it to the states, then (for example) perjury and death threats would be constitutionally protected. You can’t have a society under those conditions, so it’s necessary to invent the “compelling state interest” doctrine. It’s obvious that the Founders didn’t know the full implications of what they wrote sometimes (slaveholders signing off on “all men are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights” for example) and the BoR is no exception, so judges have to clean up their mess.

      That said — the “compelling interest” exception seems to be applied unevenly. The state seems to get its feet held to the fire, about whether the interest really is compelling, a lot more when attempting to have a nativity scene than when attempting to seize someone’s property via ED or limit someone’s gun choices.

  11. even a standard single stack 1911 in 45 acp holds 8.

    No, the old standard 1911 mag holds 7 rounds of .45ACP. I own a few from Wilson Combat that hold 8. The floor plate protrudes about 1/2″ past the actual mag well of my Gold Cup.

    1. I have not seen a seven round for a long time, but you are right.

      1. Old codger, that’s all. I bought my 1911 as soon as I could scrape up the money for a nice one. It came with 4 magazines and the first “uni-directional” cleaning kit I ever heard of.

        I also learned something annoying: a match grade barrel has a chamber that’s designed to stuff the nose of the round into the rifling. That’s great for accuracy, but sometimes the extractor cannot remove an unfired round from the grip the rifling has on it.
        I had a gunsmith ease out the chamber ever so slightly.

  12. As described above, the seven-round limit thus carries a much stronger possibility of disproportionately affecting law-abiding citizens.

    And the police will tell you that they must have standard capacity magazines and AR-15 “patrol rifles” so they won’t be outgunned by criminals, who will have them. Therefore those bans also “disproportionally affect law-abiding citizens” who will be the only ones denied them.

    Judge William Skretny in Buffalo concluded those provisions are constitutional because they’re related to achieving an “important governmental interest” in public safety.

    Except the majority of U.S. states don’t have such bans, and don’t seem to be compromising public safety.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.