A pair of local sheriffs have inked their names to a lawsuit challenging Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature’s use last month of a “message of necessity” to adopt the NY Safe Act.
Fort Ann constitutionalist Bob Schulz has been crisscrossing the state looking for plaintiffs in the lawsuit that claims Cuomo’s fast-track maneuver violated the state constitution.
Two local county sheriffs are among the more than 1,200 New Yorkers who find fault in the process.
“The way they did it was wrong,” said Warren County Sheriff Bud York.
Cuomo’s message of necessity has been at the core of protest over the law that has included multiple rallies outside the state Capitol.
Pro-gun activists see use of the legislative maneuver, which circumvented the legislation’s regular three-day cooling-off period, as an attempt to avoid a public vetting.
Cuomo has defended use of the message of necessity, arguing it avoided a run on soon-to-be-banned assault-style rifles and high-capacity ammunition clips.
“It’s got a lot of us T’d off,” said Saratoga County Sheriff James Bowen, another party in Schulz’s lawsuit.
Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, R-Melrose, earlier this month likened Cuomo to Adolf Hitler because of use of the message of necessity, and his GOP peers recently rolled out legislation that would require a two-thirds vote in the Legislature for a message of necessity to be applied.
Backers of the NY Safe Act point out the law’s critics didn’t gripe when the message of necessity was used last year to fast-track other legislation, including pension reform and casino gambling.
Some of the same lawmakers now blasting the governor supported those bills.
“They feel like government is getting into their homes,” York said of the law’s detractors.
U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, last week criticized New York’s rush to get the gun crackdown through. The federal law being pushed by President Barack Obama, which must survive a vote in the House with its gun-friendly midwestern and western members, won’t be nearly as stringent as New York’s, Owens said.
Washington County Sheriff Jeff Murphy said Wednesday he’s reviewing the lawsuit and considering whether to add his name.
The law’s impact on local police officers who must enforce it isn’t entirely clear. Some of its measures, including a ban on the sale of assault-style rifles and magazines that hold more than seven rounds, take effect in April, while others are phased in over the next 12 months.
“There are some things that are good and some things that are bad,” Bowen said, noting that he supports some of the law’s mental health provisions. “We just don’t like the way they passed it.”
Governors can use a message of necessity when it’s warranted in their “opinion,” under the state Constitution.
The message, approved by both state legislative houses, was constitutional, said Michael Wyland, a spokesman for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
The upheaval in the GOP caused by the NY Safe Act, and a perceived left turn in Cuomo’s 2013 agenda, has Republican lawmakers who campaigned in November as allies of the governor now openly criticizing him. Republicans maintain a Senate majority only because of a coalition with a handful of break-away Democrats, who all supported the NY Safe Act.
Sens. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury, and Kathy Marchione, R-Halfmoon, defied Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and opposed the NY Safe Act. Marchione remains one of the law’s loudest detractors.
Schulz’s lawsuit is one of several circulating throughout New York in the Safe Act’s wake. Pro-gun advocates view the law as an infringement on the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Schulz said Wednesday that Cuomo’s actions were “treasonous” against both the state and federal constitutions.
He said he hopes to file the lawsuit Friday in state Supreme Court in Albany County. Schulz’s lawsuit can be viewed at www.wethepeopleofny.org.