Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced legislation Monday, called the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013 (NY SAFE ACT), to give New York State the most comprehensive gun laws in the nation, which will keep guns out of the hands of potentially dangerous mental health patients and ban high capacity magazines and assault weapons. This bill does not affect rifles and shotguns used by traditional sportsmen and hunters.New York will be the first state in the nation to:
- Completely ban all pre-1994 high capacity magazines
- Ban any magazine that can hold over seven rounds (down from a limit of 10)
- Conduct real time background checks of ammunition purchases in order to alert law enforcement of high volume buyers
Key provisions of the bill include:
Mental Health Alert: Under the legislation, mental health professionals will be required 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 comprehensive, and regularly updated, gun registration database. If the patient possesses a gun, the license will be suspended and law enforcement will be authorized to remove the person's firearm.
Tougher assault weapons ban: The legislation outlines a stricter definition of assault weapons, and implements an immediate ban of defined assault weapons. Under the stricter definitions, semi-automatic pistols and rifles with detachable magazines and one military style feature will be considered assault weapons. Semi-automatic shotguns with one military style feature will also be considered assault weapons. Assault weapons possessed before the effective date must be registered within a year and recertified every five years. Owners of grandfathered assault weapons may only sell out of state or through an in-state federal firearms licensee. Under the legislation, the Bushmaster used in the Newtown, Connecticut shooting would be illegal.
Stronger regulations on ammunition: Under the legislation, New York will have the strongest ban on high capacity magazines in the country, with a limit on capacity of seven rounds, down from the current limit of 10. The legislation includes a ban on possession of pre-1994 high capacity magazines, and will require owners to sell the banned magazines out of state within one year. Existing 10 round magazines can be grandfathered in, but may only be loaded with seven rounds.
To track high-volume ammunition purchasers, the legislation will make New York the first state in the nation to track ammo purchases in real time. All dealers in ammunition must be registered with the State Police, and each sale will require both a state background check and transmission of a record of the sale to State Police, so as to enable alerts of high volume purchases. Ammunition records will be purged within a year of submission. Dealers must report any loss of inventory. The legislation will also include a ban on direct internet sales of ammunition. Ammunition ordered over the internet must be delivered in a face-to-face transaction with a firearms dealer and the purchaser will be subject to the state background check. The Aurora shooter reportedly amassed 6,000 rounds through direct online purchases.
Statewide recertification of handguns and assault rifles: The legislation will require individuals who own a handgun or an assault rifle to recertify their permit every five years through their county of residence. With this more accurate information, the state will establish an electronic gun permit database that may be run against other databases containing the names of people who would be disqualified from possessing firearms, including those with criminal convictions, involuntary commitments, and those subject to orders of protection, as well as death records.
Universal Background Checks - closing the private sales loophole: The legislation will require all gun transfers between private parties, except immediate family, to be conducted through a federal firearms licensee, subject to a subject to a federal National Instant Criminal Background Check.
Webster Provision: Under the legislation, murder of a first responder who is engaged in his or her duties would become a Class A-1 felony, with a mandatory penalty of life in prison without parole. This provision was created to honor the memory of Lt. Mike Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka, who were victims of a fatal shooting in Webster, New York, on December 24, 2012.
Extending and Strengthening Kendra's Law: Kendra's law will be extended for two years -- through 2017 -- and the period of mandatory outpatient treatment will be extended from six months to one year. In addition, a review will be required before a mentally ill inmate is released from state prison.
Protecting Families: When a judge issues an order of protection and finds a substantial risk that the individual subjected to the order will use a gun against the person protected by the order, the judge is required to order the surrender of the weapon.
Safe Storage: To better ensure that guns are kept inaccessible to those who are barred from possessing them, the legislation requires safe storage of firearms in households where individuals live who have been convicted of a crime, involuntarily committed, or are subject to an order of protection. Existing state law already requires that all guns sold at retail in the state be sold with a gun lock.
Keeps Guns Out of Schools: Under the legislation, the penalty for possession of a firearm on school grounds or a school bus would be increased from a misdemeanor to a Class E Felony.
Tougher penalties for illegal gun use: The legislation establishes tougher penalties for those who use illegal guns, as well as measures to help combat gang violence.