With just 45,000 firearms registered under the SAFE Act out of an expected 1 million, both gun control and Second Amendment advocates are claiming victory.
Following a more than yearlong campaign to obtain the number of New Yorkers that have registered their firearms under the requirements of the state’s 2013 gun control legislation, a data release Monday found that only one out of every 800 residents had, in fact, enumerated a gun.
This brought swift response from New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, an organization that has been outspoken in its advocacy for registration of firearms it terms as being dangerous.
“This is only evidence of how long overdue the SAFE Act was,” said Leah Gunn Barrett, NYAGV executive director, in a statement obtained by Guns.com.
Barrett downplayed the number of guns caught in the dragnet, saying, “The fact is, we don’t know how many of these weapons are out there.”
Further, she cautioned that, despite the oft-quoted mantra by gun rights supporters, registration does not lead to confiscation.
“The law does not require individuals to surrender their assault weapons, merely to register them,” explained Barrett. “It is in the gun owner’s interest to register their property in case of theft. We know that many guns are reported stolen every year in New York State and assault weapons are expensive and would fetch a high price on the black market, not to mention the harm they would do if they fell into the wrong hands.
Finally, the gun control champion noted the most infamous recent use of such a firearm by saying, “We need look no further than the massacre at Sandy Hook to see what carnage these weapons can cause.”
However, Barrett did not note that the gun used in that mass killing in Connecticut which took the lives of 20 children and 6 adults was already registered there under state law and had been stolen by an unauthorized user after its owner had herself been murdered.
Gun rights supporters in New York, in contrast, take the view that the low numbers reported show that the controversial SAFE Act, rushed through the state legislature just after the events at Sandy Hook, just doesn’t work.
“I am amused at the pathetically low numbers of New Yorkers who registered their so-called assault rifles,” said New York State Rifle and Pistol Association President Tom King in a statement.
King argues that even the figures released do not tell the full story, as nearly one-third of the weapons registered are noted as being in the New York City area where private gun ownership is extremely slim.
“The number of individuals who registered their guns is 24,000 and many of these are law-enforcement officials mandated to comply by their department. In short, New Yorkers have, by their lack of compliance, effectively repealed a portion of the NY SAFE Act. Congratulations to the gun owners of New York State,” King said.
“The NY SAFE Act is a blatant violation of our specifically enumerated Constitutional freedom, period. New York gun owners know it is flawed and they are not complying with it,” King said.
Meanwhile gun rights groups to include the Shooter’s Committee on Political Education are organizing this week to ask state Senate and Assembly Republicans to attach language that would repeal the SAFE Act in full to vital rent control legislation speeding through the legislature.