New York Governor Must Prove Gun Law Constitutional

MANDATORY THREE-DAY WAITING PERIOD WAIVER CHALLENGED

by Sharon Rondeau

The Dutch settled what became the state of New York beginning in 1609, hence the many Dutch names of cities and rivers

(Mar. 7, 2013) — An upstate New York television station has reported that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo must “show good cause” that the new gun law he signed on January 15 is constitutional.

The governor and his representative must appear in court on April 29 to defend the law, and an injunction against it could be issued by the state Supreme Court.  At issue is Cuomo’s waiving of a three-day review period during which public comment would have been sought as guaranteed by the New York constitution, the applicable section of which states:

[Manner of passing bills; message of necessity for immediate vote]

§14. No bill shall be passed or become a law unless it shall have been printed and upon the desks of the members, in its final form, at least three calendar legislative days prior to its final passage, unless the governor, or the acting governor, shall have certified, under his or her hand and the seal of the state, the facts which in his or her opinion necessitate an immediate vote thereon, in which case it must nevertheless be upon the desks of the members in final form, not necessarily printed, before its final passage; nor shall any bill be passed or become a law, except by the assent of a majority of the members elected to each branch of the legislature; and upon the last reading of a bill, no amendment thereof shall be allowed, and the question upon its final passage shall be taken immediately thereafter, and the ayes and nays entered on the journal. (Formerly §15. Renumbered and amended by Constitutional Convention of 1938 and approved by vote of the people November 8, 1938; further amended by vote of the people November 6, 2001.)

According to the Journal News, Cuomo provided a “message of necessity” required to waive the three-day waiting period, but Bob Schulz of the We the People Foundation, who filed the lawsuit, contended that it misrepresented the circumstances under which the law was passed.

The SAFE Act reportedly made New York the most “comprehensive” state in regard to gun laws, although it allowed an option for pistol permit holders to request that their information remain private, contrary to the old law which allowed personal information to be released.  Assault weapons were banned, as were ammunition clips with more than seven rounds.  However, police officers often use clips with larger capacities and were not consulted before the law was rushed through the state legislature.  Despite the omission, Cuomo declared that police would not be in violation of the law or “guilty of any crime.”

A “severability” clause was included in the bill in the event that it was challenged and parts of it found unconstitutional by the courts.

Cuomo claimed that gun violence will be reduced and prevent mentally ill people from obtaining guns.  Ammunition purchases will also be “tracked in real time,” and schools are specifically stated to be gun-free zones under penalty of a Class E felony.

New York passed its law in the weeks immediately following a brutal attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, approximately 60 miles from New York City.  A 20-year-old man, Adam Lanza, reportedly murdered his mother with her guns, then drove her car to the school, where he broke through the lobby door and killed 20 children and six adults.  Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy has resolved to “go further than anything that will happen in Washington” by changing firearms policies in his state after determining that the General Assembly was taking too long to craft and agree on a new law.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Connecticut is taking a “slower, more deliberative approach” to changing existing firearms laws which are some of the most restrictive in the nation.  Hartford and New Haven both occupy positions in the top ten most dangerous cities in the country.  Malloy has reached his own conclusion that Lanza was “severely disturbed” but seeks more restrictive laws against lawful gun owners.

Malloy was just appointed to Obama’s Council of Governors.  An email inquiry sent to his spokesman about the appointment was not answered.

The Journal News had published the names and addresses of pistol permit holders on December 23, 2012 but has since removed it, stating that the information would quickly become outdated.  The Journal News also released the names and addresses of Connecticut residents possessing New York pistol permits from the two New York counties where a list of permit holders was sought.  The county clerk of Putnam County, NY had refused to turn over a list of permit holders to the newspaper.

The Post & Email has repeatedly asked New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman or one of his deputies to issue a legal opinion as to whether or not the Journal News broke the law by releasing the personal information of the Connecticut permit holders, as Connecticut law mandates that it be kept private.

Fifty of a total of 62 counties in New York State are considering passing resolutions rejecting the SAFE Act.

The Journal News is reporting that Cuomo and his legal representative must be in court on March 11 to defend the law.  Fox News has also cited the earlier date.

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