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NY Rifle and Pistol Association appeals SAFE Act ruling

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The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association appealed the ruling of a federal judge that upheld much of the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013 Friday, according to a post on the organization’s website.

“The case now gets kicked up to a higher federal appeals level,” the post reads, in part.

A call to the organization yielded only a voice mail message indicating its offices closed early because of weather conditions.

An appeal was expected in the ruling, which held that the majority of the SAFE Act’s provisions were constitutional, except for a seven-round limit on magazines, which Chief U.S. District Court Judge William M. Skretny of the Western District of New York wrote was “largely an arbitrary restriction that impermissibly infringes on the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment.”

Patrick J. Morse, Lowville, is not a party to the lawsuit, but is a founder of the North Country Friends of the 2nd Amendment, a group that has been distributing anti-SAFE Act signs throughout the region.

He said the court’s decision was actually encouraging in many respects.

“It’s just more invigorating for us,” Mr. Morse said. “I think we had a great victory with the seven-round limitation on magazines being ruled unconstitutional and I think we will be successful with the appeal.”

As the case works its way through the appeals process, questions already have been raised about what Judge Skretny’s ruling on the seven-round limit will mean for gun owners.

Onondaga County District Attorney William J. Fitzpatrick told the Syracuse Post-Standard that the ruling about the seven-round limit applies only to the Western District of New York and is not binding in the rest of the state.

Jefferson County Undersheriff Paul W. Trudeau said that until he receives further guidance, the SAFE Act will be enforced in Jefferson County according to its current manifestation.

But that doesn’t mean the seven-round limit is not now open to challenge.

“It’s just going to be a mess if it’s not changed in the law,” said Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush, R-Black River.

According to Mr. Blankenbush, anyone charged with a violation of the seven-round provision under the SAFE Act could challenge or appeal the case based on Judge Skretny’s ruling.

Mr. Blankenbush, along with other north country representatives, including state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, has signed on to legislation that would repeal the SAFE Act.

However, in the Assembly, Mr. Blankenbush and other opponents of the gun control legislation will have a hard time moving such a bill onto the floor, given the downstate Democratic majority that largely favors the SAFE Act.

“The odds are slim,” Mr. Blankenbush said. “But that doesn’t meant we’re not going to continue and try to do that.”

On more than one occasion, Mr. Blankenbush has said that opponents of the SAFE Act would have more success challenging the law in the court system rather than attempting to repeal it through the legislature.

“In my opinion, you would have a better shot going through the courts and trying to get them to say it’s unconstitutional rather than approaching it legislatively,” Mr. Blankenbush said.

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