ALBANY, NY (December 6, 2016) — Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), Firearms Policy Foundation (FPF), and New York resident Matthew Avitabile have filed a federal Second Amendment civil rights lawsuit against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in an effort to strike down the state’s ban on the acquisition and possession of Tasers and other nonlethal (sometimes called “less-than-lethal”) weapons.
Individual plaintiff Matthew Avitabile is the mayor of Middleburgh, New York and would like to buy and keep a Taser for self-defense. But New York Penal Law § 265.01 states that “A person is guilty of criminal possession of a weapon” if “He or she possesses any….electronic dart gun” or “electronic stun gun,” making the crime punishable as a misdemeanor.
The complaint states that, “Given the [United States Supreme Court] decision in Heller, Defendants may not completely ban the keeping and bearing of arms for self-defense” or “impose regulations on the right to keep and carry arms that are inconsistent with the Second Amendment.”
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court dealt a blow to a similar Massachusetts law, but that case was resolved before a final decision was reached.
Said lead counsel Stephen Stamboulieh about the case, “We are pleased to be working to vindicate Mr. Avitabile’s Second Amendment civil rights and hope to expand the right to keep and bear arms for all law abiding New York residents through this lawsuit.”
“The Second Amendment absolutely protects the right of law-abiding people to buy and possess all arms in common use for self-defense, like Tasers,” stated Brandon Combs, president of the Coalition and chairman of the Foundation. “We are more than happy to remind New York that the right to keep and bear arms prevails over paternalistic and unconstitutional statutes like theirs.”
Governor Cuomo and Superintendent of the New York State Police Lt. Col. George Beach are named as defendants in the case.
Stamboulieh is joined on the case by attorney Alan Beck of San Diego. Attorney Stephen Duvernay of Sacramento-based Benbrook Law Group and Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor who has written and taught extensively about the First and Second Amendments, are consulting on the case. Before joining the UCLA faculty 20 years ago, Volokh clerked for Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the U.S. Supreme Court. He also operates the popular legal blog “The Volokh Conspiracy,” now hosted at the Washington Post.
A copy of the lawsuit’s complaint can be viewed or downloaded at http://firearmspolicy.org/cuomo.
Firearms Policy Coalition (www.firearmspolicy.org) is a 501(c)4 grassroots nonprofit organization. FPC’s mission is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, especially the fundamental, individual Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.