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Could aspects of NY’s gun violence emergency declaration end up before Supreme Court?

July 8, 2021

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The state’s top law enforcement officer, Attorney General Letitia James, came to Syracuse to announce a major drug bust involving two crime networks. While here on Wednesday, she also expressed support for the governor’s gun violence emergency declaration.

“Given the gun violence that is happening not only in Syracuse but all across the state in urban centers and all across the nation, it’s important that we designate this as an emergency,” AG James said.

We asked a legal expert about the legalities that come with aspects of this declaration.

“He does have authority under the executive law to declare an emergency, and that’s exactly what his declaration did,” Attorney Peter Pullano said of Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Pullano did note that the state legislature, however, has the power to step in and get involved when executive powers are used.

“We just saw this with the COVID,” Pullano told CNY Central. “He first did exercise that jurisdiction, it went along for a while, and then in fact the legislature did rescind it. So, he is held in check legally with that.”

We asked about the governor’s plans to crack down on illegal guns and keep people with active warrants from buying them. We wanted to know if it was legal. The governor also signed a law that holds gun dealers and makers legally responsible for gun violence. That law will likely be challenged.

“Usually, they’re going to be NYS gun laws that are going to be enforced on not be enforced as time goes by,” Pullano stated. “But, we do have the Second Amendment and the U.S. Constitution and that’s clearly a federal issue, and if the infringement seems to be such that it reaches that level, it’s not impossible that this would reach the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Attorney General James responded to whether that was a concern for her.

“I am prepared to ensure that that law is defended and that it passes Constitutional muster,” she said.

New York becomes the first state to enact a law that aims to hold gun manufacturers and dealers liable in civil court for gun violence. The law passed through state lawmakers in June. The governor signed it this week.

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