Federal Court Upholds New York SAFE Act

By Nat'l Psychologist Editor
January 18, 2016



Federal Court Upholds New York SAFE ActNew York’s three-year-old gun-control SAFE Act, which requires psychologists and other mental health workers to report clients they feel are a danger to themselves or others, has been ruled constitutional by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan.

The court found the SAFE Act as well as a similar law enacted in Connecticut shortly after the Sandy Hook school shooting did not violate the Second Amendment because there was a substantial relationship between the bans on assault weapon and large-capacity magazines.

The judges said that in light of an “important – indeed, compelling – state interest in controlling crime” such limits were allowed.

The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, which filed suit against the law soon after its passage by the state legislature in 2013, said it would appeal the court’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The court has not been in any hurry to tackle gun control legislation following controversial rulings overturning laws in Washington, D.C., and Chicago several years ago. In mid-December, it turned down an appeal of a federal district court decision upholding a strict gun control ordinance in Highland Park, Ill.

The appeals court addressed several gun rights groups’ arguments, including that mass shootings are rare events that would be minimally affected by gun control laws. “That may be so,” the court said. “But gun-control legislation ‘need not strike at all evils at the same time’ to be constitutional.”

The judges said gun rights groups’ claim that the ban on assault weapons will primarily disarm law-abiding citizens was “speculative at best, and certainly not strong enough to overcome the substantial deference we owe to predictive judgments of the legislature on matters of public safety.”

The new law amended the state’s mental health laws by mandating psychologists and other mental health professionals to report those individuals undergoing therapy they feel are dangers to themselves or others.

Some mental health workers said the new law had the potential to keep some people from seeking needed therapy, but a recent survey in the Syracuse area showed the new law had not resulted in people in need of therapy not seeking it.

No weapons sign photo available from Shutterstock

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