Ithaca, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The second amendment has taken center stage in the debate over gun control, especially in New York. Among the most contested aspects of the law is whether it violates the constitution.
New York's SAFE Act is considered the toughest gun control measure in the nation, and was the topic of discussion of attorneys Tuesday at Cornell University.
Michael Dorf, a professor of law at Cornell, supports the Second Amendment, but thinks some weapons should be regulated.
That's why he said he agrees with the assault weapons ban included in New York's new law.
"That leaves plenty of room for common sense regulation of guns of the sort that are being discussed in Washington and around the country," Dorf said.
Attorney Alan Gura has a more conservative approach to the Second Amendment. He says the Constitution secures all rights that are thought to be pre-existing, and the most important word in the Constitution is the word 'the,' as in "The right to bear arms."
"This is actually something that's secured by the Constitution and courts should look carefully at laws that infringe on the Second Amendment," Gura said.
Dorf said he hopes New York's SAFE Act will hold up in the Supreme Court. But Gura says there are parts of the SAFE Act that he finds blatantly unconstitutional.
"Many of New York's laws do go too far. I currently have a case that's seeking review by the Supreme Court challenging the concept that New York can demand a good reason to exercise something that is their right," Gura said.
Dorf disagrees, saying it's the legislators' responsibility in a democracy to create policies that keep people safe.
"I think policy-makers are hopeful that courts would afford them the room, that in a democracy we normally give to legislatures to make difficult policy decisions," Dorf said.
Both attorneys agreed these debates are far from over. They said as long as there's a Constitution, people will debate.
"We are still debating issues under the First Amendment, we still have debates under the Fourth Amendment. And so over time, disputes will arise over the Second Amendment, and it's the court's function to hear cases and determine whether or not the right extends to the facts of the particular case," Gura said.