What The Law-Abiding New York Firearms’ Owner Must Know About Governor Andrew Cuomo’s NYSAFE Act
In this post I continue discussion about “assault weapons.” This is important. The notion of ‘assault weapon’ is central to NYSAFE. I then set up a model for examining firearms under NYSAFE, consisting of six steps. This model will aid you when examining your firearms. I wish to give you the means to assess your firearms: to distinguish “assault weapons” from non-assault weapons.
WHAT DOES THE NYSAFE SAY ABOUT THE EXPRESSION, ‘ASSAULT WEAPON?’
NYSAFE has much to say about the words ‘assault weapon.’ You might have heard this: assault weapons are rifles or pistols or shotguns that have certain especial features. NYSAFE calls them, ‘assault weapons.’ That’s the general description. It’s essentially correct. But it’s simplistic. Conversely, a weapon isn’t “assault weapon” if it isn’t a rifle, pistol or shotgun. We know, then, a black powder musket isn’t an assault weapon because it isn’t a rifle, pistol, or shotgun. But how many firearms owners have black powder muskets as their sole firearm? Not many, I am sure. But, suppose a weapon is a rifle, pistol or shotgun. We need guidance to decide if it is also an assault weapon.
DOES THE “ASSAULT WEAPON” EXIST?
No. The “assault weapon” does not exist. It’s a fiction. But, the NYSAFE Act talks about assault weapons. The “assault weapon” is a fiction created for firearms confiscation. The NYSAFE calls many firearms “assault weapons” that were not “assault weapons” under previous New York antigun laws. Did such weapons suddenly evolve into “assault weapons?” No! Were they “assault weapons” all along? Of course not! But the Act says New York residents can no longer lawfully buy such weapons. The law bans them. New York residents who lawfully had firearms NYSAFE now face new laws if they wish to keep or transfer those weapons. So, the expression ‘assault weapon’ is synonymous with ‘banned firearm.’ The expression ‘assault weapon’ means ‘banned firearm.’ Nothing more.
BUT, ISN’T AN “ASSAULT WEAPON” A FIREARM THAT HAS MILITARY WEAPON FEATURES?
No. In New York a firearm is an “assault weapon” only if NYSAFE says so. If military features alone make a firearm an “assault weapon,” then all military weapons are “assault weapons.” Military weapons are not typically available to civilians. If the NYSAFE Act says a feature of a weapon is an “assault weapon feature,” then accept it. The NYSAFE Act might have said a handgun with a revolving cylinder is an “assault weapon” feature. The nature of the firearm doesn’t change. But its relation to you, because you are a resident of New York, does change.
Again, a firearm is an “assault weapon” only if NYSAFE says so. That doesn’t mean “assault weapons” exist. It only means that NYSAFE treats firearms in different ways. The NYSAFE Act says that many weapons are “assault weapons.” Any weapon is an “assault weapon” if NYSAFE says so. The NYSAFE Act may say all handguns are assault weapons. Would that mean all handguns are real “assault weapons?” No! Would that mean all handguns are “assault weapons” in New York? Yes! They are “assault weapons” if NYSAFE treats them as “assault weapons.” Does this mean all handguns are, by nature, “assault weapons?” No! That’s ridiculous.
Calling a firearm an “assault weapon” says nothing about the firearm’s technical features. But calling a weapon an “assault weapon” does have meaning. An “assault weapon” is a “banned weapon.” An “assault weapon” equals a “banned weapon.” The task of gun confiscation is, then, easy. Call a firearm an “assault weapon.” Once named an ‘assault weapon,’ ban it.
Is a fully automatic weapon or selective fire weapon an “assault weapon” under NYSAFE?
You might think a fully automatic or selective fire weapon is an “assault weapon,” under NYSAFE. You would be wrong. The NYSAFE Act says nothing about fully automatic fire weapons or selective fire weapons. Federal law governs ownership responsibilities of full auto only firearms or selective fire weapons. The NYSAFE Act says nothing about them. The NYSAFE Act only talks about “assault weapons” as defined in NYSAFE. NYSAFE says nothing about military assault rifles and military submachine guns. Military assault rifles and military submachine guns are not “assault weapons” under the NYSAFE. You have no duty to register them as “assault weapons.” So, do not treat the “military assault rifle” or the “military submachine gun” as if it is an “assault weapon.” It isn’t. “Military assault rifles” and “military submachine guns” have nothing to do with “assault weapons” as defined in the NYSAFE Act. Fully automatic and selective fire military weapons do not fall under the scope of the NYSAFE Act.
A SOLID TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE OF FIREARMS WILL NOT HELP IN UNDERSTANDING NYSAFE.
If you have a firm technical grasp of firearms, the NYSAFE Act can trip you up and throw you off. Avoid thinking about “military assault rifles” or “military submachine guns” from the get-go. Think only about “assault weapons” as mentioned in NYSAFE. I have harped on this often will continue to do so as I discuss the notion of ‘assault weapon’ in NYSAFE.
EXAMINING YOUR FIREARMS: SIX STEPS
I have set down six steps to help you when deciding which firearms, if any, are “assault weapons” under NYSAFE. The first step: inventory your firearms. The second step: learn the categories of ‘assault weapon.’ The third step: learn the definition of ‘assault weapon’ for each category of weapon. The fourth step: decide what category each firearm falls under. The fifth step: apply the correct definition to each firearm. The sixth step: isolate the “assault weapons” from the “ordinary” weapons.
Beware and be aware: Assault weapon features vary by category of weapon. Shared features might not exist across categories.
NYSAFE decides how we should examine firearms in New York. Governor Cuomo’s simplistic NYSAFE website has limited usefulness. Keep that in mind.
Do not assume anything about NYSAFE. NYSAFE is not easy to understand. Either by design or clumsiness, the language of NYSAFE isn’t straightforward. And do not look for simple explanations. You’ll fall into traps if you do. NYSAFE has plenty of them.Copyright © 2014 Roger J Katz (Towne Criour) All Rights Reserved.