New York Deadline to Register Assault Rifles Comes and Goes

20 Apr

NEW YORK (VR) – The deadline to register assault rifles in New York is here, but the true number of those who registered is unknown. Some believe that the new law has gained little to no traction amongst the New York gun owning community. Stephen Aldstadt, president of the Shooters Committee on Political Education, told Radio VR that while he can’t make recommendations on how or how not to abide by the law, he has noticed an overwhelming trend.

“As an organization we certainly can’t advise people to not obey the law. What I can say is, the overwhelming majority of people who have been talking to us have been indicating that they don’t intend to comply with the law,” he said.

In response to a public information request by Radio VR, the New York State Police refused to release any statistics pertaining to the number of registered assault rifles, claiming that the records are “derived from information collected for the State Police database and are, therefore, exempt from disclosure.”

Calls for the release of the numbers are growing from both sides of the debate, including from Leah Gunn Barrett, the executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.

“We think [the New York State Police] should release the numbers, a lot of people think they should. We hope that eventually the they will,” Barrett said.

According to the law, owners of assault rifles who fail to register their weapon by the April 15 deadline could be charged with a misdemeanor, and a felony for illegally possessing the assault rifle. Barrett believes that the law won’t affect law abiding gun owners, and goes on to mention that she is confident that the police will enforce the law and New York gun owners will comply.

“The New York State Police will enforce the NY Safe Act which is supported by New Yorker’s by two-to-one majority,” she added. “In terms of compliance, pro-gun groups like to tout that they are law-abiding citizens, well if they’re law abiding they should follow the law because this is a law of New York State, it was passed by a bi-partisan legislature, signed into law by Governor[Andrew] Cuomo, and is widely popular by New Yorkers.”

Despite Barrett’s claims, the number of those actually complying with the law is unknown, as is the number of those ignoring the law. In fact, the true number of assault rifles that are currently owned in New York is unknown as well, with estimates ranging between a hundred thousand to 2 million.

For those that aren’t interested in breaking any laws however, a loophole has allowed gun owners to bypass the restriction and own modified assault rifles that don’t fit the state’s criteria, thus making it legal to own without registration. Instructional videos like these (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xHsjxDqrrg) have even surfaced online explaining step by step how to do so.

According to the NY Safe Act, an assault rifle is classified as a semi-automatic weapon with two or more performance enhancing attachments. By simply detaching these attachments, which range from pistol grips to extended clips, Aldstadt believes that the ability to possess a weapon equal to the capability of an assault rifle is out there.

“They function basically identical to any other semi-automatic rifles that don’t have the cosmetic features on them and they never qualify as an assault rifle so we’ve seen a lot of those become very popular as well,” he said.

While the NY Safe Act still faces plenty of opposition from New York republicans and pro-gun groups, it seems that efforts to overturn the law continue to fail. The question remains however, just how will the State Police enforce these laws? Will the NY Safe Act make New York Safer, or is it just a weightless reflex to last year’s horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary?

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Reprinted from The Voice of Russia.

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