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Nassau DA Rescinds Policy Forbidding Prosecutors From Owning Handguns

MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Acting Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas rescinded a policy Wednesday that prohibited prosecutors from having handguns both on and off the job, after questions were raised over whether the rule was constitutional.

For nearly a decade, assistant district attorneys in Nassau County were barred from owning handguns. As part of the application process, prospective candidates needed to agree they wouldn't have a handgun, even at home.

There was an exception that allowed the prosecutors to obtain special permission from the district attorney but officials could not say Wednesday whether anyone had applied.

Earlier this month, UCLA constitutional law professor Eugene Volokh wrote a blog post for the Washington Post that raised questions about whether the policy was constitutional and in line with the law. The policy and its surrounding controversy was the subject of several subsequent news stories, including a feature on Fox News.

And within days of the media hype, it was rescinded.

Under a new policy that went into effect on Wednesday, prosecutors are now permitted to own handguns, but cannot have them while they're working -- including at their offices and at crime scenes.

Shams Tarek, a spokesman for Singas, said the new policy was ``appropriate,'' but declined to comment on what specifically prompted the change. He also would not answer questions about whether Singas believed the old policy was legal.

An internal office memo shows Singas asked her chief assistant, Albert Teichman, to review the policy soon after questions were raised about its constitutionality. He recommended the policy be changed, saying there should be less restrictive rules.

Volokh told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he was ``very pleased'' the policy was rescinded.

Speaking of the old rules, he said: ``I think it violates the Second Amendment. I think the government can't say `Look, you can't have a gun in your own home.' When you're at home trying to exercise your constitutional rights, the government has no right to intervene.''

The policy was enacted in 2006, when Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) was the Nassau County district attorney. A spokesman for Rice did not respond to a message seeking comment.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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