Supreme Court Rejects SAFE Act Challenge

Last week, the United States Supreme Court declined to hear a legal challenge to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s SAFE Act. According to the Buffalo News, this particular challenge to the gun control law was brought by a plaintiff named Douglas Kampfer. Another case, which was filed by the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, had previously been appealed to the Supreme Court; however, following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the appeal was abandoned.

In this case, the Court declined to hear arguments claiming that the SAFE Act’s assault weapons ban and ban on large-capacity magazines violated the Second Amendment. A lower court had previously upheld the constitutionality of the SAFE Act; the Supreme Court’s action means that the lower court’s ruling is left undisturbed. The Court declined to hear a constitutional challenge to a similar law from Connecticut as well. While Kampfer has filed a motion for rehearing, its prospects are dim.

As with any matter involving constitutional law, it is important to remember what the courts did and did not decide. In regard to the SAFE Act, the courts have found that it does not violate the Second Amendment. Correct or not, this decision has nothing to do with the question of whether the SAFE Act is a good idea as a matter of policy. Given that the courts do not see the SAFE Act as unconstitutional, it is most likely that the law will only be changed through the democratic process. This means that Second Amendment supporters must do the difficult work of persuading the public—and elected officials—that significant aspects of the SAFE Act are ill-advised and should be repealed.