FEDERAL LAWSUIT CHALLENGES SEMI-AUTO BAN IN NEW YORK STATE

December 30, 2022

BELLEVUE, WA – A federal lawsuit supported by the Second Amendment Foundation and Firearms Policy Coalition has been filed in New York, challenging that state’s ban on so-called “assault weapons.” Plaintiffs are represented by SAF and FPC attorneys.

The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, on behalf of New York residents J. Mark Lane of Larchmont and James Sears of Irving. They are represented by attorneys Cody Wisniewski, Adam Kraut, who is also SAF executive director, and Nicolas J. Rotsko.

Named as defendants are New York State Attorney General Letitia James, State Police Supt. Steven A. Nigrelli and Westchester County District Attorney Miriam E. Rocah, in their official capacities.

“The issue in this lawsuit is very plain,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “Both Sears and Lane are law-abiding New York residents who wish to own modern semiautomatic sport-utility rifles such as the AR-15, for lawful purposes including target shooting and home defense. Such rifles are in common use across the country, yet in the Empire State, citizens face the threat of arrest, confiscation, prosecution, fined and imprisonment for lawfully using such rifles.”

The lawsuit alleges that when the Second Circuit previously upheld New York’s semi-auto ban in 2015, the court relied on a two-step test that has since been rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court in its June Bruen decision as “one step too many.” Because the Second Circuit concluded that so-called “assault weapons” at issue are in common use, it should have held the New York ban violates the Second Amendment. This new action will allow the Second Circuit to correct the situation.

The complaint seeks a declaratory judgment that Lane and Sears have a fundamental right to keep and bear arms, and that the ban on common semiautomatic firearms by New York law is a violation of rights guaranteed by the Second and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiffs are also asking for a permanent injunction on the enforcement of the New York ban.

“We’re simply asking the court to uphold the Constitution,” Gottlieb stated.


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