On January 15, 2013, New York State adopted the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013 (NY SAFE Act) as a legislative priority of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.  The entire 53-page text of the NY SAFE Act can be found here.

The NY SAFE Act includes the following provisions:

Expanded ban on “assault weapons.”

Rifles, shotguns and handguns with certain characteristics are defined to be assault weapons, including semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines and one military style feature.  New York State previously banned assault weapons using a "two-feature" test taken from the now-expired federal assault weapons ban.  The NY SAFE Act also expands the definition to include pistols and shotguns with certain proscribed features.  The NY SAFE Act:

  • Bans the in-state acquisition of assault weapons, effective as of January 15, 2013.
  • Grandfathers the prior ownership of assault weapons, but requires that they be registered with the State by April 15, 2014 and recertified every five years.  Registration and recertification of grandfathered ownership will be subject to review by the New York State Police for “disqualifiers” which have not yet been defined.
  • Requires that owners of grandfathered assault weapons may only sell these firearms out-of-state or through an in-state federal firearms licensee.

Magazine capacity.

Effective April 15, 2013, only magazines that contain seven rounds of ammunition or less can be sold in New York.  Magazines that can hold more than seven rounds but not more than ten rounds and are currently possessed will be grandfathered, but may only be loaded with seven rounds.  Effective January 15, 2014, the NY SAFE Act will also ban magazines that have the capacity to hold more than ten rounds of ammunition that were grandfathered by 1994 legislation. Exceptions are made for large capacity magazines that are curios or relics.

Ammunition sales.

Effective January 15, 2014, sellers of ammunition must (1) register with the New York State Police, (2) run any buyer through a State-created review of disqualifiers to ensure that the buyer is not prohibited by law from possessing ammunition, and (3) keep records of sales that are electronically accessible to the State.  The NY SAFE Act also bans direct internet sales of ammunition.

Database for universal background checks.

The NY SAFE Act mandates a statewide license and record database to be run by the New York State Police, to become effective on January 15, 2014.  This will require individuals who own a handgun or an assault rifle to recertify their permit every five years through their county of residence.  This database will enable checks against other databases containing the names of people who should be disqualified from possessing firearms, including those with criminal convictions, involuntary commitments, and those subject to orders of protection, as well as death records.  The NY SAFE Act requires that any theft of a firearm must be reported to authorities within 24 hours.

Private firearm sales.

The NY SAFE Act extends required background checks to all gun sales, effective March 15, 2013.  All gun transfers between private parties, except immediate family, must be made through a federal firearms licensee, subject to a federal National Instant Criminal Background Check, subject to a maximum fee of $10.

Mental health alerts.

The NY SAFE Act requires mental health professionals to report to local mental health officials when there is reason to believe a patient is likely to engage in conduct that will cause serious harm to themselves or others.  This information will then be crosschecked against the new firearm registration database.  If the patient possesses a firearm, the license will be suspended and law enforcement will be authorized to remove the person’s firearm.

Increased criminal penalties.

The NY SAFE Act increases penalties for certain firearm-related crimes, including for the murder of a first responder or for possession of a firearm on school grounds or on a school bus.

Interpretive Questions Arise About Application of the NY SAFE Act

Given the haste in which the NY SAFE Act was adopted, and the breadth of its reach, many questions have already arisen about how the NY SAFE Act will apply to firearm owners, dealers, manufacturers and the law enforcement community.  For example, the NY SAFE Act does not expressly address whether law enforcement officers are exempt from the limitation on large capacity magazines.  Nor does it expressly address how it might apply to in-state firearm manufacturers.  There are also inconsistencies in many of its provisions, including for when provisions related to magazine capacity will come into effect.  Many have already called for amendments to the NY SAFE Act in order to at least clarify the reach of its provisions and the timing of their application. 

Renzulli Law Firm is Monitoring Developments

Renzulli Law Firm, nationally recognized as one of the premier law firms in the country serving the Firearms Industry, will be monitoring developments about the NY SAFE Act closely and will publish regular updates to this website.  Any questions you may have about the NY SAFE Act should be directed to John F. Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.

Additional information about the Firm’s litigation, counseling and consulting services for the firearms industry is available here.