Court rejects appeal of New York assault weapons ban

Staff and AP Report

Washington (AP) — The Supreme Court has rejected challenges to assault weapons bans in Connecticut and New York, in the aftermath of the shooting attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., that left 50 people dead.

The justices last month left in place a lower court ruling that upheld laws that were passed in response to another mass shooting involving a semi-automatic weapon, the elementary school attack in Newtown, Conn.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly turned away challenges to gun restrictions since two landmark decisions that spelled out the right to a handgun to defend one’s own home.

In December, less than a month after a mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia dissented when the court refused to hear an appeal to overturn a Chicago suburb’s ban on assault weapons. Scalia died in February.

New York State Rifle and Pistol Association President Tom King said the loss of Scalia put the SAFE Act challenge – New York’s ban on assault weapons – in a precarious position. King told the Albany Times Union the court may well have returned a 5-3 decision in the SAFE Act. That, he said, could have set a precedent for decades.

At best, they could have rendered a 4-4 decision that would have allowed the current federal appellate decision to stand.

The New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, for that reason, dropped its appeal of the SAFE Act after Scalia’s death.

But Mayfield (Fulton County) resident Douglas Kampfer pushed ahead with his lawsuit after the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the SAFE Act as well as Connecticut’s ban last October.

Kampfer, 60, has been fighting his case without a lawyer, collecting cans and bottles to fund his effort. He has already filed for a rehearing.

The cemetery caretaker says he has spent just over $1,100 in his effort.

Seven states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws banning assault weapons. The others are California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. In addition, Minnesota and Virginia regulate assault weapons, the center said.

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