One of the most controversial components of the New York SAFE Act — mandatory registration of assault weapons — kicks in today. Those who fail to comply could end up facing criminal charges.
But local sheriffs and gun rights advocates said they expect the vast majority of those who own such firearms will defy the requirement. And state police offered no details when asked to outline what, if any, plans the agency has for enforcing the statute, which was pushed through the Legislature in January 2013 by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“I don’t know a single person who is even thinking about complying with registration,” said Jim Losie, owner of Losie’s Gun Shop in Oneonta. Losie called the registration requirement a prelude to eventual confiscation of such weapons by state government.
“The SAFE Act is totally against the Constitution of the United States and the state Constitution,” he said. “If people don’t register these guns, the state won’t have a clue who has them.”
Local sheriffs, who are among the most vocal critics of a statute they see as fundamentally flawed and unnecessary, said they have no plans to actively seek out violators of the registration requirement.
“We’re not going to go out knocking on people’s doors,” said Delaware County Undersheriff Craig DuMond.
DuMond said it’s likely that New York will have significant public resistance to registration, as has occurred in Connecticut, which also passed sweeping gun legislation in response to the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.
Schoharie County Sheriff Tony Desmond had a similar assessment, predicting that compliance will be “pretty low” in his county. He also said his department has no plans for any SAFE Act enforcement actions.
“We don’t have the time or the manpower to do it,” Desmond said. “We have issues of higher importance to deal with.”