SAFE Act Legislation Upheld
The Court tackled two issues here: "whether the Second Amendment permits the regulation of the assault weapons and large‐capacity magazines at issue here; and second, whether the challenged provisions of the statutes provide constitutionally sufficient notice of the conduct proscribed."
The Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act or "SAFE" Act was created in response to a school shooting. The SAFE Act created new restrictions on assault weapons and expanded the definition of assault weapon. Most notably, "[t]he SAFE Act…bans [gun] magazines that can hold more than 5 ten rounds of ammunition or that can be readily restored or converted to accept more than ten rounds." Pp. 11. Like New York, Connecticut, in the wake of the school shooting at issue here (Sandy Hook), adopted its own findings and legislation. This legislation at issue criminalized certain behavior and possession of weapons that was legal previously. To be clear, both Acts made criminal certain weapons and parts that were previously legal, sold and purchased by a variety of consumers for completely legal purposes.
Finding that "the core challenged prohibitions of assault weapons and large‐capacity magazines do not violate the Second Amendment," (Pp. 18) The Court's
analysis of [the Second] amendment begins with the seminal decision in District of Columbia v. Heller. In Heller, the Supreme Court, based on an extensive textual and historical analysis, announced that the Second Amendment’s operative clause codified a pre‐existing “individual right to possess and carry weapons.” Recognizing, however, that “the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited,” Heller emphasized that “the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” Instead, the Second Amendment protects only those weapons “‘in common use’” by citizens “for lawful purposes like self‐defense.”
Pp. 19 (external quotation marks omitted and internal quotations and citations preserved).
The analysis of the Second Amendment continued, whereby The Supreme Court in
McDonald v. City of Chicago, in which the Supreme Court invalidated municipal statutes banning handguns in the home. McDonald was a landmark case in one respect—the Court held for the first time that the Fourteenth Amendment “incorporates” the Second Amendment against the states. Otherwise, McDonald did not expand upon Heller’s analysis and simply reiterated Heller’s assurances regarding the viability of many gun‐control provisions. Neither Heller nor McDonald, then, delineated the precise scope of the Second Amendment or the standards by which lower courts should assess the constitutionality of firearms restrictions.
Pp. 21 (external quotation marks omitted and internal quotations and citations preserved).
Doing so, the Court determined that "intermediate, rather than strict, scrutiny is appropriate. This conclusion coheres not only with that reached by the D.C. Circuit when considering substantially similar gun‐control laws, but also with the analyses undertaken by other courts, many of which have applied intermediate scrutiny to laws implicating the Second Amendment." Pp. 36. Accordingly, "[b]ecause the prohibitions are substantially related to the important governmental interests of public safety and crime reduction, they pass constitutional muster." Pp. 55
The Court completely rejected that any portion of the statutes were unconstitutionally vague. In addition, "New York’s seven‐round load limit does not survive intermediate scrutiny in the absence of requisite record evidence and a substantial relationship between the statutory provision and important state safety interests. [The Court Affirmed the judgment of the District Court] insofar as it held this provision unconstitutional" Pp. 56
Holding: "[T]he core provisions of the New York and Connecticut laws prohibiting possession of semiautomatic assault weapons and large‐capacity magazines do not violate the Second Amendment, and that the challenged individual provisions are not void for vagueness. The particular provision of New York’s law regulating load limits, however, does not survive the requisite scrutiny…With respect to the judgment of the District Court for the Western District of New York, [the Second Circuit reversed] in part certain vagueness holdings, and [affirmed] that judgment insofar as it upheld the prohibition of semiautomatic assault weapons and large‐capacity magazines and invalidated the load limit." Pp. 6-7.
The Case is New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n, Inc., et al. v. Cuomo, et al. Connecticut Citizens’ Defense League, et al. v. Malloy, et al. 14‐36‐cv(L); 14‐319‐cv (2d Cir. Oct. 19, 2015).