A directive recently surfaced that was apparently written for the benefit of the New York State Police, the agency charged with enforcing the Safe Act and its various provisions. It's too lengthy to quote it all here so I suggest you get a copy of the Safe Act Field Guide for yourself and peruse the sections you're most interested in. However, there are a few areas you may find of particular interest.
The Safe Act requires the creation of a statewide license and record database through which records will be checked to determine whether or not a particular applicant or licensee is or remains qualified to possess a firearm or to register a so-called assault weapon. The State Police will maintain the database, and records assembled or collected for inclusion in it are exempt from public disclosure laws.
It is currently being assembled and is expected to be operational in 2014. This statewide database is the common thread in all the Safe Act provisions. All the eligibility checks for the various parts of the act will utilize this database.
Anyone who lawfully possessed a weapon on or before Jan. 15, 2013 that has been redefined as an assault weapon by the act may keep that weapon provided the person registers the weapon by April 15, 2014. Once registered, the person who registered it may keep the assault weapon for life, but may not transfer it to another person unless the person he or she transfers it to is exempt from the law.
There are no exceptions that allow a person to transfer an assault weapon to an immediate family member. Therefore, the owner of a registered assault weapon may only transfer it to a police officer, a firearms dealer or a person in another state where possession of the weapon is lawful.
You also have to renew your handgun and/or assault rifle registration every five years.
"Knowingly Failing to Register an Assault Weapon" is a class A misdemeanor. This charge applies to a person who lawfully possessed the weapon prior to the Safe Act, knew it is of the type that must be registered and then failed to register it.
Although a person may continue to possess magazines with a 10-round capacity, the Safe Act prohibits having more than seven rounds loaded in any particular magazine, with certain exceptions such as at a range, or in a formal competition. New Penal Law section 265.37 provides that it is unlawful for a person to knowingly possess an ammunition-feeding device where such device contains more than seven rounds of ammunition.
Penalties for possessing more than seven rounds in a magazine fall under PL 265.37 and state: "If the violation occurs within the home of the person: first offense - violation, subject to $200 fine; subsequent offense - class B misdemeanor, subject to $200 fine / up to three months imprisonment.
"If the violation occurs in any other location: first offense - class B misdemeanor / subject to $200 fine / up to six months imprisonment; subsequent offense - class A misdemeanor / up to one year imprisonment.
Here's another interesting one: Unless there is probable cause to believe the law is being violated, there is no justification for checking a magazine to determine whether or not it contains more than seven rounds.
There's a lot more to the Safe Act than the aforementioned, but I wanted to give you a brief sampling of what's in it. My suggestion is secure a copy and acquaint yourself with it. What you see above - and much more - will be what the gendarmes will go by and there's no "I didn't know" excuses for inadvertent mistakes. Remember all the above provisions, and much more, are in effect now, or will take effect next January or on April 14, 2014.
Somehow an error insinuated itself into last week's column, so lets correct that now. The southern zone regular big game season opens Saturday, Nov. 29, not Sept. 29. Sorry about that.
New York state currently has a moose population of somewhere between 500 and 800 animals, most of them in the Adirondacks. To get a better handle on their population levels and densities, the Department of Environmental Conservation is launching an extensive study of the critters.
An earlier study done on New York moose involved DNA analysis of moose scat from different populations in the Northeast. The study found a distinct genetic difference between moose living north and south of the St. Lawrence River. The results show moose have moved between the four states of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine and the neighboring Canadian province of New Brunswick, but not so much between New York, Ontario and Quebec.
This new study will help determine ways to monitor moose on a long-term basis.