PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS AND THE SECOND AMENDMENT
THE ARBALEST QUARREL’S RATIONALE FOR WRITING TO THE NEW YORK STATE LEGISLATURE, TO THE GOVERNOR AND LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, AND TO THE NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL
The New York Safe Act, signed into law by New York Governor, Andrew M. Cuomo, on January 15, 2013, is poorly drafted legislation. It was authorized without due process and in defiance of New York’s own State Constitution.
The Safe Act is the Government’s model for undercutting the Second Amendment. The public knows this. But, what is not understood by most is that the Safe Act is destructive of private property rights too.
The antigun establishment argues that the right to keep and bear arms is a collective right, not an individual right. But, in the seminal case, District of Columbia vs. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), the U.S. Supreme Court made clear that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right, not merely a collective right. A person need not be a member of a State militia or other governmental military force to exercise the right to keep and bear arms.
Moreover, an implication can be drawn from the Heller decision. Since an American citizen has the right, as an individual, to keep and bear arms, irrespective of membership in a State militia, this individual right to keep and bear arms presumes the citizen’s right to own the firearms he bears and keeps. Private property ownership is basic to a free America.
The right of an American citizen to own property – to have exclusive and absolute ownership of property – is as fundamental a right to an American as the right to speak openly and freely under the First Amendment or to keep and bear arms under the Second.
But, under the Safe Act a resident’s right of ownership in his own firearms is strained and constrained. New York law severely restricts a New York resident’s right to transfer ownership in his or her firearms to others upon the person’s death.
New York residents may have one firearm worth a few hundred dollars or they may have collections of rare and expensive firearms worth many hundreds of thousands of dollars – perhaps millions of dollars. In either case, New York law restrains one’s ability to transfer firearms during one’s lifetime and restricts one’s ability to transfer firearms to one’s heirs upon the firearms’ owner’s death.
The dollar value of a rare and expensive firearms’ collection may be severely compromised upon the death of a New York resident gun owner because New York law restricts transfers of firearms to heirs who happen to live in New York.
In particular the New York Safe Act absolutely forbids the transfer of any firearm to an heir that is a Safe Act registered weapon unless that heir happens also to be a licensed New York gun dealer or an authorized police official.
What does this mean for an individual who may happen to own a very rare and expensive firearm that happens to be a New York Safe Act registered weapon. Let’s consider an example.
Suppose you have a gold-plated commemorative firearm that has a fair market value of $50,000.00, and suppose you wish to bequeath that firearm to your adult son or daughter upon your death. Suppose, further, that this gold-plated commemorative firearm is classified as a New York Safe Act registered weapon. Can you transfer that firearm – your personal property – to your adult son or daughter?
Well, certainly nothing in New York law prevents you from bequeathing that firearm to your next of kin. But, the important question is whether your son or daughter can keep and enjoy that personal property, just as you had. And, there’s the rub.
Your adult son or daughter can keep the firearm for up to 15 days. After that, the firearm must be turned over to the appropriate police official. At that point your son or daughter has up to one year to transfer or sell the firearm either to a licensed New York gun dealer or to a person or entity outside the State. If your adult heir fails to tell the police official how the Safe Act registered weapon is to be disposed of, the police official will destroy that firearm – a valuable collectible – one year from the date he or she obtains custody of it. There is no recourse. There is no remedy. There is no redress.
Transference of firearms to a decedent’s rightful heirs creates an undue burden on the estate as the heirs may be ineligible to receive the firearms under the Safe Act. Thus, the Safe Act operates as an unconstitutional “taking” of one’s firearm in violation of the “Takings Clause” of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This cannot be tolerated. This contempt for our Bill of Rights cannot be condoned.
The Arbalest Quarrel has recently written to every member of the New York State Senate and Assembly, in Albany, New York, and to the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of the New York and to the Attorney General for New York, requesting each of them to use his or her authority to amend New York law so that a New York resident and citizen of the United States may exercise the fundamental right of enjoyment in his or her private property – that such right may be preserved, consistent with the intent of the United States Constitution, the New York State Constitution, and the precepts of a capitalist society. The Arbalest Quarrel has also notified the New York Delegation in Washington D.C. of its action as well.
If the notion of private property is to mean anything concrete in this Country, then no governmental body, State or Federal, should be allowed to undermine an American’s exclusive power over his or her private property. That means American citizens and law-abiding gun owners, including those citizens and gun owners who are residents of New York, should be able to transfer their firearms to their heirs, free of governmental interference and constraint. That is why New York law must be changed. It must comply with the U.S. Constitution and the New York State Constitution, and with principles of a free market economy.
The fundamental right of ownership and power over one’s private property must not be diminished by political machination. The fundamental right of enjoyment in one’s private property, as protected in the “Takings Clause” of the Fifth Amendment, is as basic and as important and as fundamental a right to an American as any other right set forth in the Bill of Rights.
We are posting our letter on the Arbalest Quarrel website. It appears as a separate blog post. We shall keep our readers apprised of the results: who responds, and who fails to respond to our letter; and what each respondent has said in reply to our letter.Copyright © 2015 Roger J Katz (Towne Criour), Stephen L. D’Andrilli (Publius) and Vincent L. Pacifico (Orca) All Rights Reserved.
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