The New York State Police recently updated its SAFE Act field guide to instruct its members to not enforce a seven-round magazine limit that was part of the law. According to The Journal News, this change cements a policy put in place by the State Police after a federal court judge ruled the provision unconstitutional last year. The decision is being appealed.
“While the federal district court upheld most of its provisions, the court held that this section, ‘Unlawful Possession of Certain Ammunition Feeding Devices,’ was unconstitutional,” the updated field guide states. “As a result of the court’s decision members are instructed not to enforce PL 265.37 at this time.”
The announcement is a minor victory for pro-Second Amendment groups working to overturn the SAFE Act.
“The New York State Police have followed the same sensible path taken by the New York Sheriffs’ Association and many local law-enforcement agencies in not enforcing a capricious, ill-conceived and unconstitutional portion of the NY SAFE Act,” stated Thomas King, president of the New York State & Rifle Association (NYSRPA). “To date, NYSRPA has spent over $500,000 in litigation and we are prepared to fight the NY SAFE Act all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where we are confident that many provisions of the law will ultimately be overturned.”
The NY SAFE Act was passed early in 2013 following the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Fast-tracked by Governor Andrew Cuomo, the Act contained a number of gun control measures including expanding the list of banned “assault weapons,” and putting a seven-round cap on magazines. The “high-capacity” magazine cap was originally slated to go into effect on April 15 of last year, but was postponed indefinitely due to the fact that manufacturers do not produce seven-round magazines for many guns.
Although law enforcement officials say there is no practical method of enforcing the ban, the law still required that gun owners load only seven rounds into magazines designed for more. Last December, Chief US District Judge William M. Skretny upheld the majority of the SAFE Act except for the magazine cap. In an opinion, Skretny called it “tenuous, strained and unsupported.”
“Lawmakers, mental health professionals, and New York’s gun owners were essentially ignored in the rush to enact this law,” King said. “As a result, careful judicial scrutiny is uncovering some of the law’s flaws and unenforceability. New York’s legal gun owners are among the most law-abiding citizens of this state and ultimately their civil rights will be upheld.”
NYSRPA and the NRA are among the plaintiffs on the case that challenges the SAFE Act.
Other provisions of the SAFE Act, such as the creation of a database for background checks on ammunition purchases and a statewide gun registry, are still in the process of being implemented.