February 23, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- On Jan. 15, 2013, New York became the first state to enact a gun control measure following the Newtown, Connecticut, massacre. The measure, signed into law by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, significantly enhances the state's ban on assault weapons. It is being called "the most restrictive set of gun laws in the nation" (Saugerties Times), and critics worry that it will lead to unconstitutional weapons arrests
In particular, the new gun laws
- Ban assault weapons:
Assault weapons may no longer be sold in New York state. New York gun owners who own semi-automatics have one year to sell any weapons they do not want to an out-of-state dealer.
- Require registration of previously purchased assault weapons:
Gun owners must register assault weapons purchased before Jan. 15 with the New York State Police. Failure to register after April 15, 2014, could be a misdemeanor. Knowingly possessing an unregistered gun is a felony.
- Reduce the legal magazine capacity:
The maximum magazine capacity is now seven rounds, down from 10 rounds.
- Require background checks for ammunition sales:
All ammunition sales, including private sales, require background checks.
- Ban gun ownership for some mental health patients:
Mental health providers must enter the names of potentially dangerous patients into a database or report them to local county medical health officials. The Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) can then decide to prevent a person from purchasing a gun and/or require him or her to surrender all firearms.
An assault weapon is a semi-automatic rifle, shotgun or pistol that has at least one military rifle feature. This includes weapons with bayonet mounts, pistol grips (except for pistol grip shotguns), muzzle flash suppressors and folding stock.
Penalties for Illegal Use of Guns Increase
The law also increased the penalties for those that illegally purchase or use guns. The following is a brief summary of the expanded penalties:
- It is now a Class D felony to undergo a background check and purchase guns for someone else.
- Possessing a gun on school property is now a felony.
- Killing a first responder is now considered first-degree murder.
- Anyone who uses a loaded firearm during a violent felony or drug sale faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years. If the gun is unloaded, the mandatory minimum is 3 1/2 years.
Frustrated Gun Owners, Organizations Challenge Law
Multiple lawsuits have been filed that challenge the New York gun law. One case, filed in Erie County by two gun owners, claims that the law is unconstitutional. For example, making it a Class E felony to fail to register a gun may violate the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Furthermore, requiring gun owners to sell high-capacity magazines or give them to the state may amount to government seizure of private property, a violation of the Fifth Amendment.
The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association has also filed notice stating that it would bring a lawsuit against the "unconstitutional law."
Other gun owners and legislators are protesting the law through petitions. One petition, by state Sen. Kathleen Marchione, has amassed more than 118,000 signatures. Yet, as the Senate Republican leader has said, "The reality is that the Assembly would never pass [a repeal]. The governor would never pass it."
If You Are Charged Under New York's Gun Laws
Gun owners have a year to sell their semi-automatic guns or register them (by April 15, 2014), and a year to dispose of or disable magazines that hold more than seven rounds. Yet, many gun owners have said that they will not register their guns. If the law is deemed constitutional, this could lead to large fines and time in prison.
These new gun laws are complicated. If you face charges for violating one, it is important to seek the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer who understands the laws and the defenses available to fight your charges.
Article provided by The Law Offices of Mark J. Sacco, PLLC
Visit us at www.trafficlawyerny.com---
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