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Understanding Your Rights Under the NYS SAFE Act

October 20, 2017

In light of recent events in the United States, it’s important to understand the laws around secure ammunition and firearm sales. Below is a summary of the “NYS SAFE Act” which can be used as a basis to understand the legal limits around owning and operating a firearm.


The New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013, also commonly known as the “NYS SAFE Act,” was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo on January 15th, 2013.  The legislation has resulted in some important changes to the regulation of firearms in New York State.  The SAFE Act includes these new provisions:

  • The possession of “high-capacity magazines,” regardless of when they were manufactured or sold, is banned. “High capacity” is defined as GREATER than 10 rounds. You may continue to buy, sell, and possess any magazine that can hold up to 10 rounds, regardless of when it was manufactured.  You may still buy 10-round magazines.
  • Starting on March 15, 2013, all private handgun, rifle, or shotgun sales or transfers (with the exception of those sales or transfers to and between certain family members) will require a background check of the buyer. Ammunition dealers are also required to conduct background checks.
  • A registry of assault weapons will be created, and all New Yorkers who own assault weapons must now register these guns with the state (registrations must be renewed every five years). The definition of “assault weapon” has now been reduced from two identified features to one.  Further, the Internet sale of assault weapons is banned.  Most guns are not considered assault weapons, and are therefore not affected by this law.  This includes the majority of guns that are used for hunting; for example, any pump, lever, or bolt action rifle or shotgun cannot be an assault weapon. Also, a traditionally designed handgun is not considered an assault weapon; for example, a single shot pistol or a revolver cannot be an assault weapon. Assault weapons are determined by certain MILITARY characteristics, depending on whether the gun is a pistol, rifle, or shotgun.
  • The law requires mental health professionals to report any mental health patient who is a potential threat to others, which could result in revoking of the patient’s gun. Similarly, guns must be safely stored from any household member who has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence crime, or is under an order of protection.
  • Increased sentences for gun crimes, as well as increased penalties for shooting a first responder.
  • Stolen guns must be reported within 24 hours.

If you have questions about your rights, please contact Steve Cohen with HoganWillig at 716-636-7600.