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Federal judge upholds majority of NY gun law

Thomas Kaplan

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that New York's expanded ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines was constitutional, but struck down a provision forbidding gun owners from loading their firearms with more than seven bullets or shells.

The judge, William M. Skretny of U.S. District Court in Buffalo, N.Y., called the seven-round limit "an arbitrary restriction" that violated the Second Amendment.

But Skretny said the greater restrictions on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines were constitutional, because they served to "further the state's important interest in public safety."

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and lawmakers passed the new laws, among the most restrictive in the country, in January 2013 in response to the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012.

Gun rights groups have been critical of the measures, holding protests at the state Capitol, questioning their legality, and vowing to oppose officeholders like Cuomo who championed them. The judge's ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association and other firearms groups.

The seven-round limit on magazines, which Cuomo, a Democrat, touted when he pushed for the new laws in January, had already run into problems before Tuesday's ruling.

In March, in response to complaints that seven-round magazines were not widely available for sale, Cuomo said he and legislative leaders would change the restriction so that 10-round magazines could continue to be purchased. But even with that change, gun owners would still be forbidden from loading more than seven rounds into those 10-round magazines.


By THOMAS KAPLAN
The New York Times