Lawsuit Targets New York’s Post-Sandy Hook Gun Law
(Reuters) - Two gun owners have filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn New York state’s sweeping new gun-control law, enacted after the mass shooting at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut.
The suit, filed on Tuesday in state Supreme Court in Erie County, is apparently the first to challenge the crackdown on firearms championed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Attorney James Tresmond, who is representing the gun owners, asked state Supreme Court Justice Diane Devlin to enjoin the law pending the state’s response.
The law was passed on January 15, making New York the first state to enact tougher gun regulations after a gunman shot dead 20 students and six staff members last month at the Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Connecticut.
The law bans assault weapons and magazines that hold more than seven rounds of ammunition, requires gun owners to register most guns with the state and requires universal background checks, among other provisions.
The law also authorizes law enforcement to confiscate guns owned by a mentally ill person, if a mental health professional believes the person poses a threat to himself or others.
“A number of constitutional rights were just tossed aside here,” Tresmond said on Wednesday.
Under the law, the failure to register a gun is a class E felony. The suit claims that the provision violates the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, because it could force a gun owner who registers late to effectively admit to committing a crime.
The U.S. Supreme Court in 1968 ruled in Haynes v. United States that felons and others who are prohibited from possessing guns could not be forced to incriminate themselves through registration.
Tresmond said the law also violates the Fifth Amendment’s ban on the taking of private property by the government. The law requires people who own high-capacity magazines to either sell them or surrender them to the state.
The lawsuit lists as defendants Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate majority leaders Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein, and State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico.