As of Friday, private "person-to-person" sales of guns in New York State require the same sort of criminal background check required at dealerships and gun shows, and new mental health reporting rules under the state's gun act begin at midnight.
Meanwhile, a man from Silver Creek has become the first person arrested under the new law, which changes the definition of banned "assault rifles" to include guns that could be sold previously.
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The new background check requirements require any private gun seller, at a range or on Craigslist for example, to obtain the same background clearance that would be required at a dealer or gun show.
The buyer must go to a registered dealer, have a traditional NICS background check done and get proof of clearance for the sale, at a cost of not more than $10.
The new mental health provisions of the law begin tonight at midnight, enhancing the existing reporting requirements when a patient tells a mental health professional of possible gun violence.
Practitioners say the mental health rules could chill a patient's desire to get help.
"They have the potential to drastically alter the practice of mental health care in the state, for the worse," says Dr. Steven Dubovsky, MD, Professor and Chair of the Psychiatry Department at the University at Buffalo medical school.
Existing law requires reporting of anyone who could be a danger to themselves or others. The new rules establish a registry of patients reported by their counselor, psychiatrist, psychologist, nurse or doctor. The state department of criminal justice services and the provider then decide whether follow up is needed.
The law, officially known as the NY Safe Act, also sets a seven-bullet limit on magazines, tightens the definition of illegal "assault weapons" and requires owners of formerly legal semi-automatic guns to register them. Most of those other requirements begin next month.
A Western New York man has been arrested and charged with violating New York's Safe Act, the very first person in the state to be charged in connection with violating the new laws.
Undercover agents from the State Police and State Attorney General's Office said 33-year-old Benjamin Wassel of Silver Creek allegedly tried to sell the agents two illegal AR-15 assault-style rifles and several hundred rounds of ammunition.
Wassel is accused of three felonies.
Here's how the official NYS advice site for gun owners
describes the new background check requirement
Q: I want to buy my gun from someone who is not a dealer, i.e., a private sale. What do I have to do?
A: A NICS check must be performed on the buyer by a dealer. The dealer may charge you no more than $10. The dealer will give the prospective buyer a form to show that he or she passed the check. This will take effect on March 15, 2013
Q: I want to sell my gun to someone who is not a dealer. What do I have to do?
A: A NICS check must be performed on the prospective buyer by a dealer.
Q: What if I want to sell my gun out of state, does a dealer need to perform a NICS check?
A: No. You can sell your gun out of state, provided you follow the laws of the state. Federal law has certain restrictions on shipping guns between states that you should consult before making a transfer.
From the Erie County Dept of Mental Health -
Here's are guidelines for Mental Health practitioners
DATE: March 14th 2013
TO: Erie County Provider Agencies, Practitioners, Clinical Therapist
FROM: Ellery Reaves, MPA Commissioner, Erie County Mental Health
RE: New York State “Safe-Act”
Greetings, Erie County Provider Agency, Practitioners, & Clinical Therapist
This memo is to inform you; in response to recent events surrounding gun violence,
New York State has enacted the “Safe-Act” to take effect March 16th.
Provisions under the Safe-Act have two major components. The first component legislates weapon type, ammunition, & criminal charges relating to violations of the law. The second component targets individuals and requires clinical judgment, intervention & reporting.
Under the second component, the Safe-Act states as of March 16th; all persons under the direct care of a physician, psychologist, registered nurse or licensed clinical social worker deemed “likely to engage in conduct that would result in a threat to themselves or others” after evaluated using “reasonable professional judgment” must be reported under article 9.46 of the NYS Mental Hygiene Law to the Director of Community Services in the county of origin.
Upon receipt of reporting information from the designated mental health professional, the Director of Community Services either concurs, disagrees, or requires additional information.
If both parties are in agreement, the Director of Community Services forwards the information to the NYS Division of Criminal Justice (DCJS). DCJS then contacts the county of origin and suspends or denies gun permits from the reported individual.
The Safe-Act is a rapid response by New York State to address recent and future events relating to gun violence. The legislation poses as many questions as answers. Please take a moment to visit the OMH web site (listed below) for guidance & reporting information.
Erie County Mental Health will also be a resource for questions and will continue to provide updates as received from the NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH).