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Is NY SAFE? One Year Later

Posted By David Hernandez || March 11, 2014


In 2013, New York state lawmakers passed what is arguably one of the most restrictive gun laws in the United States. The effects are still being felt one year later…perhaps more so than when the law was initially passed.

For those that don’t know much about the NY SAFE Act, it:

  • Limited the sale of military-style rifles.
  • Limited the sale of high-capacity magazines.
  • Called for background checks for ammunition sales.
  • Required mental health professionals to report anyone that may be a threat to public safety to law enforcement officials.
  • Imposed stricter gun crime penalties.

While many have heralded NY SAFE Act as a model for a new era of gun control, the laws are facing resistance in some areas. Jesse Smith for Kingston Times reports, “A newly galvanized community of gun owners has demonstrated their distaste for the law with everything from a statewide ‘shot heard ‘round New York’ event to a quiet refusal to comply with the assault rifle registration requirement.”

Some citizens that oppose the NY SAFE Act felt the new laws criminalized law-abiding citizens. One New York gun owner, choosing to remain anonymous, said, “This law took honest citizens and turned them into felons. Now I’ve got 16 felonies sitting in my bedroom.”

It isn’t just regular citizens expressing concern and distaste for the law. The New York State Sheriff’s Association has opposed parts of the law including the ban on assault weapons.

Since going into effect, there have been 1,291 arrests for violations of the NY SAFE Act throughout New York. That number may not be as great as it seems at first glance. Of those 1,291 arrests, 1,155 were individuals violating gun laws pre-dating the NY SAFE Act. The bulk of the arrests (over 50%) were of individuals in New York City.

The fact that most arrests occurred within NYC may indicate a reluctance of officers in other areas to enforce the NY SAFE Act. “The law is the law and we have to enforce it, but we encourage our people to use discretion and common sense,” said Ulster County Sheriff Paul Van Blarcum, “You don’t have to write a ticket every time you pull someone over for speeding.”

Believe it or not, one industry that has flourished under the NY SAFE Ac is the gun industry. According to Jesse Smith, “With the ban on Internet sales already in effect, gun owners are buying ammo faster than manufacturers can produce it or shops can stock it. Common calibers like .22 long rifle and .380 have become nearly impossible to find.” While the boost in sales is a bonus, gun shop owners have been besieged with questions by gun owners who want to remain within the boundaries of the law.

“I’ve spent hundreds of hours answering the same questions over and over and over and it’s not done yet,” said Marie Ruger, co-owner of Ruger’s Custom Guns.

The NY SAFE Act isn’t a done deal. Provisions of the law have been brought before the state Supreme Court. In December of 2013, the sate Supreme Court struck down the part of the legislation that limited detachable magazines to a seven-round limit and other provisions of the law await a ruling.

Truth be told, New York may be the odd one out among the nation. According to the Kingston Times, in the year since the tragic Newtown shooting, more laws have passed loosening restrictions on guns than tightening them.

Despite resistance from voters, opposition by some of the officials supposed to enforce the law, and court cases, the act hasn’t made it back before the legislature. Assemblyman Pete Lopez said, “he doesn’t envision the act going on the legislative chopping block anytime soon.”

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