Long before the media frenzy around government violence against citizens, Ostrowski sounded the alarm on Venezuelan gun confiscation in NYS Supreme Court

May 2, 2019 | BUFFALO, N.Y. – A new chapter in Venezuela’s ongoing saga of civil unrest and violent government oppression erupted this week. Social media feeds and mainstream newscasts are awash in unforgettable video of Venezuelan National Guard heavy vehicles running down unarmed civilians, and state agents directing small arms fire at peaceful protesters.

Government tyranny has visibly overcome the South American nation once considered a model democracy. The real-time retrograde in Venezuela refutes the misguided assumption that democratic institutions and traditions alone are sufficient to protect citizens from episodes of violent state aggression.

In widely-disseminated commentary stemming from a live report Tuesday on MSNBC, it appears Kerry Sanders inadvertently made the strongest possible argument for the Second Amendment civil rights of all Americans: the constitutional right is an effective check against government tyranny.

“You have to understand, in Venezuela, gun ownership is not something that is open to everybody,” Sanders said. “So, if the military have the guns, they have the power and, as long as Nicolas Maduro controls the military, he controls the country.”


A panoply of partisan commentators, social media personalities, and online interest groups have seized on Sanders’ comments as irrefutable proof of the true meaning and intent of the Second Amendment. However, before this week’s events in Venezuela, the comments made by Sanders, and the resulting deluge of reportage and online analysis, Attorney Jim Ostrowski was already drawing the attention of the New York State Supreme Court and Attorney General’s Office to this issue. He specifically cited Venezuelan gun control and the visibly disastrous results as a cautionary tale for Americans in his winning legal argument that overturned the first ever SAFE Act conviction last week. He did this during oral argument more than two months ago, and again on March 11, 2019 via commentary for 2AWNY.COM.

“We strongly believe that intermediate scrutiny is not the correct standard, and will not be upheld by the [U.S.] Supreme Court in October,” Ostrowski argued in New York State Supreme Court on February 28, 2019. “The problem with intermediate scrutiny is, you have this fundamental right declared by Heller, but nowhere in the intermediate scrutiny test is there any value at all given to the two primary values of the Second Amendment…which is, you have the right to protect yourself against a tyrannical government and, by the way, if you look at the headlines, Venezuela is now shooting unarmed protesters. So, it’s not like, oh, we have a democracy. What if the democracy falls apart, as it is? But also, whenever the government is not around to protect you, you have the right to protect yourself. And in the intermediate scrutiny test, there is absolutely no weight given to either of those values. So that test cannot stand.”

Ostrowski made similar statements before the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit on February 20, 2019, during oral argument in Libertarian Party of Erie County v. Cuomo. This case seeks to overturn the New York State pistol permitting regime on constitutional grounds, and is currently pending a decision from the Court. Said decision is unlikely to come until the U.S. Supreme Court decides NYSRPA v. NYC, which is expected to alter the level of judicial scrutiny applied to Second Amendment court cases.

However, with the catastrophic results of gun control playing out this week via the calamity in Venezuela, New Yorkers should be curious to see if Second Circuit Judges John Walker, Jr., Dennis Jacobs, and Amalya Kearse learn from this real-time history lesson. Should they apply logic to what we’re observing in South America, they will overturn New York State’s unconstitutional, arbitrarily applied, ‘may issue’ pistol permitting regime so New Yorkers don’t suffer a Venezuelan episode at the hands of progressive autocrats at a future date.

To learn more about any of the above, please contact Steve Felano at (518) 852-1863 or sfelano@2AWNY.com.


– 30 –

2AWNY is a force multiplier for the numerous Second Amendment civil rights advocacy enterprises forming the backbone of Western New York’s vibrant gun culture. We act as a 2A news and information distribution, policy analysis, and organizational driver for the many interest groups seeking to defend and expand Second Amendment civil rights throughout the region. 2AWNY is dedicated to assisting in the organization, promotion, and funding of legal challenges to the unconstitutional New York State gun control regime. We seek to make Western New York the epicenter of New York State’s Second Amendment civil rights renaissance. Learn more at WWW.2AWNY.COM.