Skip to comments.New York’s Fact-Free Gun Ruling
Posted on 01/03/2014 7:25:35 PM PST by neverdem
Most of New Yorks new gun-control laws have been upheld on a totally dubious basis.
New Yorks new gun-control law, the so-called SAFE Act, largely survived its first federal-court challenge on this past Tuesday. The more than 1,140 New Yorkers its made felons will remain so. But even the testimony of the states own expert witness failed to show that the law will cut crime.
The judge in this case is William M. Skretny, chief federal judge for the Western District of New York. His decision upheld the states gun-registration requirements and ban on assault weapons, but he rejected the seven-round limit for magazines, deeming it arbitrary.
The decision relied heavily on testimony by George Mason University criminology professor Chris Koper, who argued that the criminal use of assault weapons declined after the federal assault-weapons ban was enacted in 1994, independently of trends in gun crime. Judge Skretny wrote in his opinion: Because New Yorks regulations are tighter than those in the federal ban, [Koper] believes, quite reasonably, that the affect [sic] will be greater.
But Kopers two studies on the 1994 federal assault-weapons ban dont support his claims. The first study(PDF), with Jeff Roth for the National Institute of Justice, found that the evidence is not strong enough for us to conclude that there was any meaningful effect [of the weapons ban].
Seven years later, in 2004, Koper and Roth conducted a follow-up study with fellow criminologist Dan Woods, covering a much longer period after the law. They concluded, we cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nations recent drop in gun violence. And, indeed, there has been no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence.
To make the court ruling even stranger, given Kopers argument about what effect the ban will have on New York, no evidence was considered on the effects of state law, even though this has been studied by other researchers such as myself. At that level, again, absolutely no benefit is found on crime.
More embarrassing is the judges reliance on Kopers claim that a [large capacity-magazine] is arguably the most functionally important feature of most [assault weapons], many of which have magazines holding 30 or more rounds. Any gun that can hold a magazine can hold one of any size. That is true for handguns as well as rifles, implying that virtually all semi-automatic guns are so-called assault weapons. But a magazine, which is basically a metal box with a spring, is trivially easy to make and virtually impossible to stop criminals from obtaining. Even if someone didnt have access to some simple machine tools, the proliferation of 3D printers make it so anyone can produce them.
Judge Skretny also failed to examine other aspects of the law. For example, he concludes that SAFE Acts requirement that ammunition sales be conducted face-to-face does not unduly burden interstate commerce. But in New York, going through a federally licensed firearms dealer to get a background check on ammunition purchases reportedly adds $85 in costs to the average purchase; there are also the time costs involved in having to drive to a physical store. And these costs fall hardest on the very people who most need guns for protection poor blacks who live in high-crime urban areas.
Or take his claim of public-safety benefits from registering guns. Not a single study is cited showing that registration reduces crime. Whether in Canada, Hawaii, Chicago, or Washington, D.C., police seem unable to point to a single violent crime where registration has helped their investigation. During a recent deposition, D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier said she couldnt recall any specific instance where registration records were used to determine who committed a crime.
The judges reliance on the left-wing Mother Jones magazine to buttress claims about mass shootings is almost comical. Even liberal academic James Alan Fox described the data collected by the magazine as relying on questionable motive-based selectivity and criteria that are not necessarily applied consistently.
Hopefully an appeals court will be more careful with the evidence. Courts should prevent people from exercising fundamental rights only when there is clear evidence that restrictions actually benefit public safety.
John Lott is the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and the author of More Guns, Less Crime (University of Chicago Press, 2010).
Thanks for the analysis. Happy New Year!
BTT. Those studies will, of course, be completely misrepresented by gun grabbers.
With the “reasoning” used by that judge, I’m amazed that he struck down the seven-round magazine limit.
Most of New Yorks new gun-control laws have been upheld on a totally dubious basis.
"Dubious?" I'd be more inclined to say the basis is "bull obama," but if some people prefer the word "dubious," far be it from me to try to insist.
Us`n mountain folks only need a one-round mag to do the job cuz we iz sharpedshooters all since diapers, n but we don got planty 20`s in reserve.
Law making by mental midgets.
Man, good thing I caught it in time...When they said “Fact Free”...I thought they might have saud “Fat Free”...
I am so confused...
Good thing I do not live in NY...They must be breeding a new species of Lactose Free ninnies there in NYC and Albany...To what ends???
Heller correctly found that the reference to a militia in the 2A, was a dependent clause, and the "Right to keep & bear arms" was in fact the independent clause.
But, this did not erase the militia clause, it left it as a reason for the 2A. Since our military trains with and uses a full auto version of our civilian AR-15, it would seem that this is the ideal militia weapon. Already familiar to veterans who could be expected to be the backbone of a militia.
How this judge, completely glossed over this reasoning is not the complete mystery it seems, it is the result of a great antipathy to firearms, which should disqualify the judge.
Only when Congress begins impeaching federal judges whose infringements are overruled upon appeal, the meddling activism will finally abate. Right now, district judges think themselves free to reinterpret the plain language of the Constitution to mean anything.
Careful. If the Congress can impeach a federal judge merely for a ruling by that judge that is reversed/vacated on appeal, it will likely use that power to remove judges that narrowly read the Congress's powers. For example, a Conservative district court judge rules that the Congress lacked the power to do X and this ruling is reversed by Liberal judges of a Court of Appeals. Should the Congress be able to remove the Conservative district court judge?
90% of New York City’s long term residents seem to be raving lunatics, why should facts concern them?
Why is the judge listening to all of this testimony about the effects of the law on crime?
The effects of the law on crime rates has nothing to do with whether the law passes constitutional muster or not.
The fact that the law limits if not obliterates personal liberties protected by the constitution is all that need be heard. If it were shown that murder rates were cut by half you might make an argument but cutting by 1-2% is not going to cut the muster
Unless the law could be shown to drastically cut crime it could not pass the reasonable regulation test.
Sad thing was that this case, NYSRPA v. Cuomo, 13-CV-291S, was rushed by the plaintiffs and their arguments where very poorly presented in my opinion. The big problem is that, because they did rush this into Federal court, they really screwed up some of the better and stronger cases presently working their way through the State courts on this.
Keeping guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens this is the way to fight crime, these are the gang bangers firends
Remember that impeachment is a two step process. The Senate would still have to step into the fray. I’m just looking for somebody to be tapping the brake occasionally to keep the judiciary from becoming a permanent runaway.
Think back to the times post-revolution. The Kentucky long rifle was probably state of the art as a personal weapon. And that is what the individual citizen had at his disposal at the time of the writing of the 2A. So the framers, knowing the capabilities of the armaments at the time, saw no problem with the personal ownership of state of the art weaponry.