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Understanding New York’s New Gun Possession Law

Understanding New York’s New Gun Possession Law

The recent mass shootings in the United States, most notably the 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, has led many state legislatures to hastily enact new criminal statutes regulating the possession and transfer of certain types of firearms. In New York, the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act is such a law. Understanding the provisions of this law is crucial for gun owners and dealers, as failing to comply could result in criminal prosecution.

The SAFE Act became law on January 15, 2013. This new law imposes various limitations related to firearms and ammunition, including:

  • Current owners of guns that qualify as “assault weapons” must register with the New York State Police by April 15, 2014. These weapons must be reregistered every five years.
  • No future sales of “assault weapons” are permitted.
  • Weapon magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition are no longer permitted.
  • Gun owners may only load up to seven rounds in their weapons, regardless of capacity, except while at a recognized shooting range.
  • All private transfers of handguns, rifles and shotguns are subject to background check requirements with only limited exceptions.
  • Gun owners who reside with someone who has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence crime, has been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility or is the subject of an order of protection, must securely store their firearms to prevent access by that person.

Failing to register a weapon in accordance with this act is a Class A misdemeanor criminal offense. Illegal possession of a firearm, formerly a misdemeanor, has been elevated to a felony in some cases. Moreover, failing to abide by this law may also bring about civil liability if the failure causes harm to others. If you have been charged with a violation of the SAFE Act, are being sued because one of your guns was used to injure another or otherwise have questions about your new obligations, a New York City attorney may be able to help.

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