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Court upholds most of New York ban on semiautomatic weapons

A federal appeals court has largely upheld a New York gun control law, described as the toughest in the country.

Controversial gun control laws in New York and Connecticut, which ban possession of semiautomatic and large-capacity firearms, were recently upheld by a federal appeals court, Newsweek reports. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York declared that the majority of provisions in the gun laws are constitutional, although it did strike down some specific measures. Gun rights activists, however, have vowed to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, meaning the matter may be far from settled.

Strictest gun laws in the U.S.

New York and Connecticut’s gun control laws, which were passed in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in late 2012, have been described as the strictest gun laws in the country. The New York law, called the SAFE Act, increased background checks and registration requirements for firearm owners, which supporters of the bill claimed would help prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands, according to the Poughkeepsie Journal.

Both the New York and Connecticut laws placed broad prohibitions on the possession of semiautomatic assault weapons and large-capacity magazines. Those prohibitions were at the heart of challenges to the law, which critics claimed violated the Second Amendment.

Court upholds laws

The federal appeals court, however, largely upheld the laws, ruling that prohibiting the possession of semiautomatic and large-capacity firearms was not unconstitutional. The court did, however, rule that a section of the SAFE Act that said only seven bullets could be loaded into a 10-round magazine was unconstitutional. However, due to a lower court ruling, New York had already stopped enforcing that particular prohibition. Additionally, the court ruled that a section of the Connecticut law that banned ownership of the Remington 7615, a non-semiautomatic weapon, was also unconstitutional.

What effect the ruling will ultimately have in New York, Connecticut and across the U.S. still remains to be seen. It is not expected that the ruling will provide much impetus to pass a federal gun control law, but it may send a signal to other state legislatures that laws modeled on the SAFE Act are likely to be declared constitutional. However, critics of the law, who largely disagreed with the ruling, say that they will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

Weapons offenses

Faced with some of the toughest gun laws in the country, many New Yorkers could find themselves hit with a serious weapons offense. Defending against such charges requires the assistance of an experienced and dedicated criminal defense attorney, one who can help defendants understand his or her rights and options.

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