Deadline Day

Today is the last day for owners of newly defined assault rifles to register them with the state.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s SAFE Act defined certain rifles assault weapons, such as those with a detachable clip, an adjustable stock, a pistol grip, a thumb-hole stock or a threaded barrel end.

“The registration deadline of semi-automatic rifles is here, and it is anticipated that the vast majority of firearms owners will not participate because the SAFE Act infringes on their Second Amendment rights,” said Sen. Cathy Young, R-Olean.

Failure to register newly defined assault rifles is a misdemeanor, while possession of an assault weapon is a felony.

“As an attorney, I recommend that people comply with the law,” said Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Jamestown. “I also recommend that when they register their rifle, they make sure all owners of the rifle are listed in the registration.”

Otherwise, if owners are not properly listed, it is illegal for such rifles to be inherited.

“That’s why it’s important that the registration list all owners,” Goodell said. “Up until this point, these rifles didn’t have title documents.”

The SAFE Act has caused outrage since it was passed in January 2013.

From Goodell, Young and others in Albany to those in law enforcement, support for reform has been strong.

A letter from the Sheriff’s Association to Cuomo opposed portions of the law, assault rifle definitions in particular.

“Classifying firearms as assault weapons because of one arbitrary feature effectively deprives people the right to possess firearms which have never before been designated as assault weapons,” stated the letter.

Young said some of her constituents have moved out of the state due to the gun law.

“I am a supporter of the Second Amendment, so I voted against the SAFE Act because it takes away our Constitutionally protected rights that we cherish as Americans,” Young said. “New York state should not be penalizing responsible, law-abiding citizens.”

In addition to infringing on legitimate Second Amendment rights, Goodell said the SAFE Act may violate the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution as well, because it treats similar people in different ways.

“For example, if your identical twin bought a new ‘assault rifle’ the day before the law became effective, your twin could keep the rifle even though you could never buy such a rifle yourself,” he said.

Young concluded that although registration numbers have not been released, unofficial estimates are anticipated to be low.

To register a rifle, call 1-855-LAWGUNS, or visit firearms.troopers.ny.gov/safeact/welcome.faces.

More information about the SAFE Act can be found at www.governor.ny.gov/nysafeact/gun-reform.