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Anti-NY SAFE Act plaintiffs sign on to appeal

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CANTON — The initiator of a lawsuit challenging the state’s Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act gathered signatures Friday at the St. Lawrence County Courthouse from five of the 11 fellow plaintiffs in the county for an appeal on the constitutionality of the law.

Robert L. Schultz, founder of We the People of New York, was to collect 217 signatures from Jefferson County plaintiffs — the largest group among 1,256 plaintiffs spread throughout 58 counties — at 8 a.m. Saturday in front of the Dulles State Office Building and from 20 Lewis County plaintiffs at 9:30 a.m. in front of the courthouse in Lowville.

The lawsuit seeks to strike down the SAFE Act primarily on the way it was passed. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo declared a message of necessity, avoiding a constitutional rule that three days pass before a final legislative vote.

“There were a lot of people upset,” said Judith M. Whitmore, a director in We the People of New York. “It’s about the system of governance. It’s about legislative due process. Secondarily, it’s about the Second Amendment, of course.”

Raymond G. and Carlene A. Marshall, Redwood, came to Canton to sign because Mr. Marshall had other plans for Saturday.

“It’s an illegal law,” Mrs. Marshall said. “They didn’t need to pass it in the middle of the night and not have anyone read it.”

Nancy W. Dalton, Louisville, who came with her husband, Dalton E., also disagreed with how the law was passed.

“He really didn’t give people a voice in this at all,” she said. “It was not well thought out.”

Joel J. LaPierre, a candidate for the District 4 seat on the St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators and himself a plaintiff in the case, will try to collect the signatures of the county’s other plaintiffs who could not come Friday.

The appeal is of a recent state Supreme Court decision that denied rejection of the law. Acting Supreme Court Justice Thomas J. McNamara ruled the state had met its burden that it had to act quickly.

“The governor included in his certificate a recitation of his reasons for urging speedy passage,” the judge wrote. “That is all the constitution requires.”

The judge also rejected arguments that the law violated Second Amendment rights, including those in the New York Constitution.

“Given that the right is not absolute and in the absence of a cogent argument demonstrating how the SAFE ACT infringes upon their right, plaintiffs have failed to establish that the legislation is unconstitutional,” his decision stated.

Mr. Schultz hopes to take the case straight to the Court of Appeals.

“You can go directly to the Court of Appeals if the only question is on the constitutionality of a statute, which is what this is,” he said.

The Court of Appeals procedure is that all plaintiffs individually sign on, he said.

“Courts have never seen anything like this,” he said. “Each plaintiff is pro se. We’re all without attorneys. As far as I’m concerned, we need a lot more of this.”

Jefferson County had such a large showing because a 9/12 group, a movement created by radio personality Glenn Beck, had asked Mr. Schultz, a constitutional activist, to speak in Jefferson County before the SAFE Act was passed.

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