Today is the deadline for people to register guns defined as assault weapons by the NY Safe Act. New York state residents who own assault rifles have until Tuesday to make changes before a new part of the tough gun control measure goes into effect.
Owners of an estimated 1 million previously legal semiautomatic rifles -- such as the Bushmaster model used to kill 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 -- are allowed to keep their weapons but must now register them with police. The sale of any more such weapons is prohibited, under the nation's first gun control law passed in the wake of those killings.
|According to New York State Police, failure to register an assault weapon by the deadline is punishable as a misdemeanor "and forfeiture of the weapon." If it is "deemed to be unintentional," a 30-day amnesty period will be extended to register it.
However, another penal law provision defines possession of a knowingly unregistered gun as a low-level felony. The misdemeanor carries up to a year in jail, the felony, up to four years in prison.State police spokeswoman Darcy Wells said the charge in any case will be up to the prosecutor, that New York has been registering weapons for more than 80 years and that this provision just expands that registry.
"Enforcement will be handled the same as other laws as mandated through state police policy and procedure," she said
Informally, many gun owners have said they will not register their weapons. The New York Post cites a law enforcement official saying "that only a fraction of gun owners are following the law. "
The pro gun website BearingArms.com says 3,000 to 5,000 people had signed up as of April 5, according to the Post report. (below)
"People are pretty much convinced once they get on this registration, the next time they'll say they've got to turn them in," said Stephen Aldstadt, president of the Shooters Committee on Political Education, who helped organize a protest against the law outside the Capitol building April 1.
Assault rifle owners must either register their firearms with the state or modify the gun to get rid of its certain features.
Previously, New York state law on assault weapons banned semiautomatics that have detachable magazines and at least two military-type features, such as a pistol grip, folding stock, muzzle flash suppressor or bayonet mount. The new law outlaws weapons with just one of those features.
|From The NY POST:
"The public may never know how many gun owners are complying with a strict law requiring them to register assault-style firearms....
.... The provision is odd because governments routinely release statistical data
.... Some believe the provision was inserted to prevent embarrassing the state and Gov. Cuomo with the low compliance rate."
For an estimated 1 million older guns already owned by New Yorkers, including popular AR-15s, the law requires registration. State police have established simple online registrations but refuse to say how many they've received. Cuomo, when asked, said he didn't know.
Aldstadt said his group, which counts more than 300,000 members statewide, isn't telling people to disobey the law. But some owners have said they won't do it, while others are removing features, such as pistol grips, from their semi-automatics so they won't meet the state's definition of an assault weapon.
"I refuse to comply," said Jeff Tutuska, a graphic artist from West Seneca who was among a few thousand at the Capitol protest. He held a sign saying: "I'd rather have it & not need it than need it & not have it."Reuben Tompkins, 59, of Greenville, said he didn't know of anyone who planned to register a gun under the new law. "I hope nobody does," he said.
In addition to outlawing a broader array of military-style weapons, the measure restricts ammunition magazines to seven rounds, down from the current 10, creates a more comprehensive database of people barred from owning guns, and makes New York the first state to require background checks to buy bullets. The system will also help flag customers who buy large amounts of ammo.
A recent Siena Poll found that while the measure is supported statewide, there is strong opposition in areas north of New York City. A year after the law was enacted, voters support it by a 2-to-1 margin statewide, but a slight majority of upstaters still oppose the measure, according to a Siena last month, that also shows some slippage in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's popularity.
Opposition to the SAFE Act seems to be concentrated among Republicans (54 percent oppose- 39 in favor), Conservatives (51 percent oppose- 41 percent in favor ) and upstaters (52 percent oppose-45 percent in favor) , according to Pollster Steve Greenberg.
The law prohibits convicted felons, those with a history of mental illness or those under protection orders from owning assault rifles. There is no charge for registration. You can register or learn more information by clicking here.
It also requires background checks for even private gun sales, except those among immediate family. In addition, it says handgun owners must renew their licenses every five years, and it increases prison sentences for using guns in various crimes or taking them onto school ground