Unless you have been living under a rock, you are certainly aware that the federal government, as well as several states, have been beating the drums to enact new gun laws that would place further restrictions on WHO can own guns of any kind (a GOOD thing) and what KIND of guns law abiding citizens can own (a BAD thing).
Well, New York was the first one to take affirmative steps to pass new laws, and they jumped in with both guns a blazing (with the new state maximum seven rounds per magazine only, of course). A bill passed by the NY Senate in the early morning hours is projected to be quickly passed by the Assembly and be the law of NY before sunset. The proposed law, when passed, will enact sweeping changes to gun laws that go far beyond what any other state has ever tried to do, and may very well run afoul of our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. And when I say sweeping changes, I mean it. The bill would make multiple changes to The Criminal Procedure Law, The Family Court Act, The Education Law, The Correction Law, The Executive Law, The General Business Law, The Judiciary Law, The Mental Hygiene Law, The Domestic Relations Law, The Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act, and last but not least, The Penal Law.
As with virtually every law, it isn’t all bad. Governor Cuomo increased the penalties for certain gun related crimes, including the murder of first responders, gang activities, possessing guns on school grounds and buses, possessing guns while engaged in drug trafficking, and providing a gun to a person not authorized to possess one. That’s it. That is the only real good he accomplished in this bill.
There were also several meaningless changes – judges already possess the power to take away people’s guns at arraignment, as a condition of bail, as part of a conditional discharge or probation at the end of a case, or nearly whenever they feel it is in the best interest of the public to do so. Not only did judges already have this power – they were already using this power. Despite this, the bill would make new laws allowing judges to do what they are already allowed to do. For example – the Criminal Procedure Law is amended to do what was routinely done anyway – require the surrender of weapons of criminal defendants found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, or that they are incapacitated. It also allows the surrender of weapons owned by a person against whom an Order of Protection has been issued in family or criminal court – again, something that occurs routinely under existing powers of those judges.
The Mental Hygiene Law will be amended to allow mental health records already reviewed as part of a federal background check to also be maintained by the state, and to require mental health workers to report if a patient is likely to engage in conduct that will cause serious harm to himself or others – such a report may result in the removal of any weapons by the Department of Criminal Justice Services. Since mental health workers are already allowed to breach their privilege to do this, there is no improvement in safety.
The Bill also extends “Kendra’s Law” – a 1999 law which allows a court to “order” outpatient treatment for certain mentally ill people not so ill as to require inpatient treatment – this law is largely ineffective because it has no enforcement provision, and its extension does nothing to provide an enforcement.
Now for the part you have all been waiting for. The State of NY has joined the misinformation campaign and decided it needs to further restrict the meaningless term “assault weapons” – but it goes far beyond anything any other state or nation has ever done to ban as many previously legal firearms as possible. Before this law, a semiautomatic weapon with a removable clip (which is damn near every semiautomatic weapon in existence not called a shotgun) was considered an assault weapon if it had any two of a list of characteristics, including a telescoping stock (you know, so your son and you can both comfortably fire the same gun, or a woman, or anyone with a short stature or short arms), a pistol grip (because they look scary) a bayonet mount (like the rifle my grandfather carried in the army, which was probably the last time anyone used a bayonet) a flash suppressor (because it sounds scary) or a grenade launcher (I agree these are not necessary!) But not anymore…
Now your semi-automatic weapon is considered an assault weapon if it has even ONE of those characteristics! That’s right – the gun you could buy off the shelf yesterday will be illegal as soon as the governor and Assembly sign off on this law. And they also added several new characteristics which they deem to make your rifle an assault weapon – such as a thumb hole stock, a forward grip or a muzzle break. And by the way, your semiautomatic shotguns are illegal if they have any one of these characteristics, too. No – you won’t have to turn in a weapon you currently own – but the government will require you to register your weapon.
Not only is our state government banning an entire class of weapons simply because of the way they look, they are also restricting how many cartridges our weapons are allowed to hold. As of the moment this bill is signed into law, no one may possess any magazine with a capacity of more than 10 cartridges, no matter whether it was grandfathered in at any point in the past. The law goes even further – its says that no magazine may be loaded with more than seven rounds – no matter the actual capacity of the magazine. Also, effective immediately – no magazine may be sold with a capacity of more than 7 cartridges – which means the sale of virtually all semi-automatic handguns is over in NY – because there are almost no guns currently sold with a magazine holding seven rounds or less.
YOU WILL NO LONGER BE ALLOWED TO OWN ANY MAGAZINE HOLDING MORE THAN 10 ROUNDS OF AMMUNITION – ANY MAGAZINE YOU CURRENTLY OWN HOLDING MORE THAN 10 ROUNDS OF AMMUNITION IS IMMEDIATELY ILLEGAL (unless it qualifies as an antiquity or a relic)- AND YOU MAY NOT PLACE MORE THAN SEVEN ROUNDS IN THE MAGAZINE.
If you own a rifle with a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds, you had better get rid of the magazine, because it is now illegal. Unfortunately, no one makes a seven round magazine, so good luck finding one.
The government will also be keeping track of your ammunition purchases from now on. All ammunition purchases must occur through registered sellers, and information on your purchases will be submitted to and examined by the state to determine whether they need to pay you a visit.
There will no longer be any private sales of firearms, except between immediate family members – all others must occur through a federal firearms license holder.
This is just a thumbnail sketch of the worst parts of this bill. A lawsuit has already been filed challenging it’s constitutionality.
READ THE BILL – KNOW WHAT IT SAYS – THE STATE OF NY MAY HAVE ALREADY MADE YOU A CRIMINAL!
Thanks for reading.
ZiffLaw Attorney, Esq.
NY and PA Injury and Accident Attorney
The Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William Street
Elmira, NY 14901