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Judge refuses to block gun law

ALBANY -- A state judge refused yesterday to block New York's tough new gun law challenged in a lawsuit by more than 1,000 people who claim it violates the state constitution because it was passed too quickly and restricts the rights of a citizen militia.

Justice Thomas McNamara said case law by New York's top court prevents him from reviewing Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's justification for pushing the bill quickly through the legislature instead of waiting the three days usually required. Cuomo used a "message of necessity" to skirt the waiting period.

Robert Schulz, who brought the suit, said he will ask the Court of Appeals to review the precedent, claiming Cuomo's emergency justification was false. The law enacted Jan. 15 sets a seven-bullet limit on magazines, tightens the definition of illegal "assault weapons" and requires owners of formerly legal semi-automatic guns to register them.

"I'm a trial-level court and a trial-level judge and I'm constrained to follow the law as set forth by the Court of Appeals," McNamara said from the bench. "It is clear that judicial intervention, judicial review of a message of necessity, is not allowed."

The judge gave state attorneys 30 days to file their response to the suit's underlying claims that the law should be voided as unconstitutional.

Schulz told supporters and other plaintiffs afterward that he wasn't surprised by the judge's ruling and will petition the top court today to consider whether governors' messages of necessity can be reviewed by courts when the facts they use to justify quick legislative action are false.

"They key word there is facts. Facts have to be true," he argued before McNamara.

Cuomo's message to lawmakers, who gave final passage to the 59-page bill the day after it was introduced, said: "Some weapons are so dangerous and some ammunition devices so lethal, that New York State must act without delay to prohibit their continued sale and possession in the state in order to protect its children, first responders and citizens as soon as possible."

State & Region