Read what we found

The Sandy Hook shooting last Friday has reawakened calls for assault weapons bans nationwide. Since New York is one of a handful of states to prohibit the deadly guns, it’s worth asking how well the law has worked.

The law, it turns out, is pocked with loopholes.

In 2000, New York State adopted bans on assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines modeled after a federal law in place at the time. That federal ban, passed by Congress in 1994, expired in 2004.

Like the short-lived national policy it’s modeled after, New York’s law contains some troubling loopholes. New York Penal Code prohibits “manufacturing, transporting, disposing of or possessing” an assault weapon or ammunition magazines carrying more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Those rules, however, don’t apply to weapons and magazines manufactured before September 14, 1994 — the date the federal law went into effect.

“Which is why we have a problem,” explained Jackie Hilly, executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence. There’s no way to determine when the magazines were manufactured, she said — those made before 1994 and those made after can look exactly the same. In guns stores, she said, they’re often just marked with pieces of paper.

Determining what constitutes an assault weapon has also proved tricky. Under New York State law, they are defined as semi-automatic shotguns, as well as rifles and pistols that can accept detachable ammunition magazines and include at least two defining characteristics specified in the law, like folding or telescoping stocks, bayonet mounts and grenade launchers.

New York State Sen. Daniel Squadron introduced a bill this year that would broaden the definition of assault weapons to include more military-style guns, and adding to the list of banned items conversion kits that have the capability of transforming a legal firearm into an illegal assault weapon.

Though Squadron’s bill pushes for tougher laws, its corresponding memo nevertheless asserts that “New York State’s assault ban weapon works. It has made the streets of New York State safer.”

According to the national Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, New York has the fifth-lowest number of gun deaths per capita in the states. The center evaluated gun laws across the country and ranked New York as having the sixth strongest gun laws, following California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Hawaii.

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5 Comments

  1. Ms. Maier’s article points out pitfalls that I hope Congress is mindful of when it drafts legislation (assuming the recent swing toward concern for children over the NRA) to limit ownership of assault weapons. Thanks for the informative article.

  2. Section 1. The New York state legislature finds that semi-automatic
    assault weapons are military-style guns designed to allow rapid and
    accurate spray firing for the quick and efficient killing of humans. The
    shooter can simply point – as opposed to carefully aim – the weapon to
    quickly spray a wide area with a hail of bullets.

    This is blatantly false. Semi-automatic rifle fire exactly the same way with the same speed, accuracy, and power, whether it is ‘military sytle’ or a deer hunting rifle. If this is passed, rifles will be banned based only on the color of the stock…disenfranchising gun owners and protecting no one in the process. The writers of this bill can’t not know this. From both sides of the gun control arguement, shame on you Dan Squadron.

  3. All priviate owned gun should be taken away from New Yorkers. Then we could control crime. Congress is weak and basiclly not that smart. We have Mayor Blumberg to lead us to the social level the masses need to be at. Well to do people and people is goverment or with great wealth need not have to follow the same laws as the masses, it just common sense.

  4. The problem with the new weapons ban it is still focused on inadimit objects. the new law should cover all mentaly ill people and also any adult or child/teen on medication for any disorders. Heaven forbid we say there’s a problem with the younger generation, lack of parenting thanks too the government and very little respect and morals taught across the board. All this proves is that what ever the new groups writes is only one sided. All for ratings and a profit. No common sense. New york already had a 10 round restriction for assault weapons now it’s 7 rounds. No body makes 7 round magazines for these types of rifles. If CT was done with a car would we have gone after car factories and the people that drive them. Sorry to say I HIGHLY THINK NOT.

  5. Dear sir

    Governor Cuomo and members of the NY State Legislature engineered the passing of a new gun law in the State of New York in direct violation of New York State Civil Rights law and the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. The details of the law are being sorted out because it was poorly written and sections within it directly conflict with each other. Law suits will be filed shortly to have the law overturned as unconstitutional and petitions are also being circulated to have the law repealed including one by Senator Bill Larkin.

    You need to know that this law specifically targets law abiding gun owners with more regulations and restrictions. There is little within it that has anything to do with reducing crime or violence. As a consequence of the new restrictions being imposed it directly impacts on our ability to present living history and battle reenactments within the State of New York. Some of the guns directly impacted by this law are World War II issue M-1 Garand and M-1 Carbine rifles which are the mainstay of any World War II living history event. It also impacts on participants who come into the State from neighboring States to participate in events. The law essentially prohibits these weapons from being used because of the magazine and “assault weapon” features they possess. The law also directly affects AR-15 rifles which are the mainstay of any Vietnam era reenactment or living history event. The economic impact that this new law will have on the State is yet to be seen but I will tell you that it will most likely chase Remington Arms manufacturing out of Ilion, New York and they run a $400 million dollar operation with over 1000 well paying union jobs. Over 20 other gun friendly States have already put out offers to Remington. All living history/reenactment events, and their economic benefits, as we have been trying to establish within the County will be directly impacted and many gun owners, including myself, are looking to move to States where are rights are respected because we refuse to give any more tax money to a State who does not respect us or our rights.

    A number of Town and County Legislatures have been passing resolutions condemning the Governor’s illegal actions and the new law that was passed in the middle of the night without being read.
    Citizens are also contacting their local Sheriffs to have them state that they will not enforce unconstitutional law. of Orange County stand up to the incestuous corruption in Albany in support of the Civil and Constitutional rights of the law abiding citizens of the State.

    TOM MASCH