New York’s SAFE Act forbids sale of ‘assault’ rifles
by Ron Kolodziej

Hamilton County and Fulton County legislators have passed resolutions calling for repeal of the governor’s middle-of-the-night SAFE Act, and I understand Oswego County has also done so. By the time you read this, Montgomery County may have done the same. I hesitate to belabor the point, but if you examine the way this act was passed by our state legislators - in the middle of the night, without the required three-day waiting period and before anyone had ample opportunity to review and comment on its contents - it’s bad government at its very worst.

Here’s a thought, regardless of how you feel about the subject. It’s estimated there are one million “assault weapons” in New York state, in the hands of law-abiding gun owners who use them for target practice, varmint hunting or even (depending upon the caliber) big game hunting.

First of all, the term “assault weapon” is open to interpretation. As I’ve said before it’s all cosmetic and “in the eye of the beholder.” The presence of extraneous parts often makes a weapon an “assault weapon” even if it’s just a semi-automatic, which many sporting and hunting rifles are.

Be that as it may, let’s arbitrarily say you own an AK47, AR15 or some variant thereof, and you want to divest yourself of that weapon to get at least some of your investment back. Since the Legislature provided no lead-time in foisting the SAFE Act on the public, how do you do that?

You can’t sell it to a neighbor or a fellow member of your fish and game club because it’s now illegal to do so; you can’t take it to your gun dealer to have him put it on the rack as a used weapon, because it’s illegal to do that also; you can keep it and register it with the State Police but then you still can’t sell it to anyone in NYS later, even if something happens to you and your heirs then become responsible for it. Then it becomes trash and will be confiscated and destroyed.

You can sell it out of state but who has the contacts to do that? No self-respecting gun dealer will estimate its value without first seeing it, which means you may be forced to cross several state lines with that weapon in your vehicle before finding a cooperative dealer.

If you go to one of the websites devoted to such transactions you still have to get the weapon to an out-of-state dealer, but it has to go from a federal firearms licensed local dealer here in NYS to one in the buyer’s state. Unfortunately, very few, if any, NYS dealers are able or willing to do that.

It’s a Catch-22. You want to sell the weapon but you can’t. New York state won’t allow you to do that if the SAFE Act remains in effect.

If you just keep the weapon but don’t register it with the State Police by next January, you would be breaking the law and probably couldn’t use it at your favorite range or for hunting, because if you’re ever caught with it you’ll be arrested for having an unregistered “assault weapon.”

See what I mean? It’s a boondoggle either way and the State of New York and the governor’s minions aren’t helping. Next, the government of NYS will likely put a heavy licensing or tax scheme on those weapons, putting you back to square one: how do you sell it if you want to? It’s a no-win situation for law-abiding gun owners.

The governor implied there could be a buy-back program, but some of those weapons are worth many hundreds of dollars. Let’s arbitrarily say NYS offers to buy back each of those weapons from their law-abiding owners for the bargain price of only $500 each. If all those one million “assault weapons” suddenly came in to a “redemption center” it would cost the state something in the neighborhood of a half-billion dollars - a staggering sum that we can’t afford now or perhaps ever.

So what’s the answer? Confiscation is the only way to get these weapons, and that’s the beginning of a slippery slope that could end with confiscation of all weapons - assault or not.

In short - the governor’s SAFE Act is a poorly thought out scheme and it’s backfiring on him. You can forget about any future political aspirations the governor may have. The SAFE Act will come back to bite him on the posterior.