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Lawsuits & Litigation

Firearm Groups Sue to Overturn New York Assault Weapons Ban

— July 13, 2022

The lawsuit claims that New York is violating residents’ Second Amendment rights by depriving them of the opportunity to own high-capacity semi-automatic rifles.

A firearm advocacy organization has filed a lawsuit to overturn New York State’s ban on so-called “assault weapons,” less than a month after the United States Supreme Court struck down a similar law restricting when individuals may carry handguns in public spaces.

According to Bloomberg, the lawsuit alleges that the assault weapons ban violates the Second Amendment by preventing New York residents from buying common semi-automatic rifles, including the ever-popular AR-15 and its many variants.

The plaintiff gun-owners claim that semiautomatic rifles are ideal for home defense, and that any broad-ranging ban on New Yorkers’ ability to own them could endanger individual lives.

“AR-15 rifles are among the most popular firearms in the nation, and they are owned by millions of Americans,” the Firearms Policy Coalition wrote in its lawsuit, noting that about 44 million AR-15s have been sold across the country.

Bloomberg observes that the lawsuit was filed as New York continues to refine and redefine its firearm laws.

The recently-passed assault weapons ban restricts the purchase of semi-automatic rifles capable of receiving a detachable magazine, and which have at least one other military-style characteristic, such as a telescoping stock or flash suppressor.

Jonathon Lowy of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence told Bloomberg that the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn New York’s handgun-control statutes will allow firearm advocacy organizations to begin litigating against the state.

A U.S. Air Force soldier fires at targets. Using trained non-military security personnel to perform firing squad executions isn’t a method in vogue–the last use of the technique was in Utah in 2010. Image via (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard). Public domain.

The Supreme Court ruling, Lowy said, “opened up the floodgates for the gun lobby and its allies to bring lawsuits against virtually every gun law in America.”

“It is more than reasonable for a state to determine that weapons of war should not be in the hands of civilians, and there are ample other sorts of firearms that can be used even more effectively to defend oneself at home,” he added.

However, firearm advocacy organizations suggest that people like Lowy fundamentally misunderstand the use and utility of semiautomatic rifles like the AR-15.

“The banned semiautomatic firearms, like all other semiautomatic firearms, fire only one round for each pull of the trigger. They are not machine guns,” the lawsuit states, adding that fully automatic rifles—such as those used by the armed forces—can fire up to 1,000 rounds per minute.

“A comparison to firearms used by the military demonstrates just how disingenuous the “assault weapon” moniker is,” the lawsuit says, because “an AR-15 can only fire as often as a person can pull its trigger.”


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