New Yorkers have a choice to make by Tuesday about their newly designated ‘assault rifles’ as SAFE Act registration requirements soon kick into effect.
Under the protocols of the 2013 New York SAFE Act, effective April 15, those with a regulated firearm must register it with the state to keep it legal.
The requirements (pdf) for registration are based on a series of cosmetic traits of the firearm in question.
For instance, semi-automatic rifles with a detachable magazine that have one of ten banned features that include a pistol grip, folding stock, threaded barrel or bayonet mount must be registered, modified, or removed from the state by the deadline.
The State has a link, from the governor’s homepage no less, to an interactive questionnaire to tell if a gun should be registered.
A lawsuit filed in Federal Court on April 1, Razzano v. Cuomo, is seeking a last minute injunction against the registration deadline. However, if it is unsuccessful after Tuesday, possession of a gun that is considered an unregistered ‘assault weapon’ in New York will be considered a crime.
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.
This doesn’t sit well with many who would have to enforce the law.
“We’re actually creating a category of criminal from of a group of people, a great majority of whom, never would of broken the law,” said Chief Deputy John Balloni with the Onondaga County sheriff’s office.
Registration by many is considered the next step before confiscation.
“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 (SCOPE), one of the leading pro-Second Amendment groups fighting the SAFE Act.
Many New York gun owners are choosing noncompliance with the law. In March, a group of gun owners gathered in Saratoga Springs to burn more than a thousand registration forms, vowing to register nothing.
I refuse to comply,” said Jeff Tutuska, a graphic artist from West Seneca. Tutuska says he’s a peaceful person and won’t register the AR-15s he’s owned legally for years. He expects his 11-year-old daughter to inherit them one day, not the government. “It’s none of their damn business,” he said.
In past cases of firearms bans, noncompliance with registration is not uncommon.
When Canada enacted mandatory firearms registration a decade ago, less than a third of the estimated number of guns in the country were brought in to be counted, leading to labels of massive civil disobedience at the time. Recently, in Connecticut, just 50,000 guns out of an estimated half million were registered.