A guest post by David Codrea
While the gun-rights community is focused on the National Rifle Association-backed New York State Rifle and Pistol Association lawsuit (NYSRPA) challenging New York’s Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act, a lesser-known complaint has also been filed that has both promise and controversy built in.
The case is Razzano v. Cuomo, filed in the United States District Court, Eastern District of New York by “Gabriel Razzano, individually and on behalf of a class of all other persons similarly situated,” by attorneys Robert J. La Reddola and Steven M. Lester. What’s immediately noticeable in the brief is that the “class members” in the Razzano lawsuit include “all persons who own long arms and are or may become ineligible to obtain or maintain a pistol license or own a newly defined ‘Assault Weapon.’”
Razzano himself became “ineligible” after Rep. Carolyn McCarthy’s (D-NY 4th) office sicced the cops on him after an animated meeting over immigration issues, and they confiscated his legally registered weapons — nine rifles, 15 handguns, and his fiancée’s handgun. They revoked his pistol license three weeks later over his “suitability.”
In other words, an American citizen, with no criminal charges against him, no convictions, no mental health diagnoses, no adjudication of any kind, was stripped of his supposedly Second Amendment-guaranteed rights essentially because he exercised those promised in the First Amendment.
Those outrages lead to legal action in Razzano vs. County of Nassau (“Razzano I”). In that action, the court ordered the return of Razzano’s long guns — which would normally be called a win.
However, after years of litigation, Razzano is still “ineligible” for a Nassau County pistol license, and thus under the SAFE Act, is subject to having all of his “weapons” confiscated, including hunting rifles and shotguns for self-defense in his home, which is the point of the current Razzano v. Cuomo lawsuit.
“[T]here are many in New York State who, like Razzano, fail to meet the standard of local pistol administrators for non-criminal reasons, and are thus ‘ineligible to possess a handgun license’ or are ‘no longer a valid license holder,’” the second Razzano suit continues. “Therefore, the SAFE Act promulgates the same unconstitutional policy rejected in Razzano I: the seizure of all legally-owned weapons without notice, administrative review or judicial finding.”
That conclusion would seem borne out by the SAFE Act itself, which states, “The Division of Criminal Justice Services, upon determining that an individual is ineligible to possess a license, or is no longer a valid license holder, shall notify the applicable licensing official of such determination and such licensing official shall not issue a license or revoke such license and any weapons owned or possessed by such individual shall be removed….” Razzano’s legal team filed a motion for preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order to keep aspects of the SAFE law from going into effect on the April 15, 2014 deadline, but the District Court turned that motion down.
“The judge said that this needs to be dealt with in the state court until I have been ‘injured’ [having all my firearms taken away again],” Razzano explained by email.
“We will be bringing the state action forthwith and then return to federal court,” Razzano’s attorney Robert Redola promised.
If Razzano’s rights can be violated like this, might all gunowners be in danger? Let us hear your opinions in the comment section.
About the Author: David Codrea is a field editor at GUNS Magazine, penning a monthly “Rights Watch” column. He provides regular reporting and commentary at Gun Rights Examiner and blogs at The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance.
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