As many as a million New York residents have failed to register their “assault weapons” and “high capacity” magazines with the state. The registration deadline was today.
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This year April 15 is more than the tax deadline for an estimated one million New York State residents. It’s also the deadline to register “assault weapons” and “high-capacity” magazines. If they don’t, they’ll begin living outside the law. A lot of them have decided to do just that. They’ve decided to practice civil disobedience even though failure to register an “assault weapon” by the deadline is punishable as a “class A misdemeanor,” which means a maximum sentence of one year in prison.
I put “assault weapon” and “high-capacity” in quotes because their definitions vary by state—they’re political terms. In New York State, the SAFE Act passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in January 2013, uses an expansive and elaborate definition of “assault weapon” that includes a lot more than AR-15s. Now even a semiautomatic Remington Model 1100 shotgun—a popular shotgun first made in 1963 that is used by millions of hunters and skeet shooters—is an “assault weapon” in New York State if the shotgun has a pistol grip. Many other commonly owned pistols, shotguns and rifles are also now labeled “assault weapons” in New York State.
When I asked the New York State Police how many New York gun owners had registered the guns they own that now fit somewhere into the state’s expansive “assault weapons” category the state responded: “New York State Police cannot release information related to the registration of assault weapons including the number of assault weapons registered. Those records you seek are derived from information collected for the State Police database and are, therefore, exempt from disclosure.”
This is the same dilemma Connecticut gun owners found themselves in at the end of 2013.