SAFE Act regulations are now in place
FINGER LAKES—As of Wednesday, Jan. 15, it is now illegal for a New York resident to purchase ammunition without seeing a licensed dealer who is registered with the New York State Police. New Yorkers purchasing ammunition from these dealers will also be subject to background checks at a later date (once a statewide database is created) by the state police before their purchase is approved.
This new regulation takes effect as part of the New York State Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act of 2013, which was passed a year ago in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Conn. Since its passing, it has caused much controversy among residents, not only due to what some perceive as an infringement on Second Amendment rights, but also due to the hurried nature with which the law was passed. The law also bans certain semi-automatic assault rifles as well as has a provision limiting the number of rounds in a magazine to seven. The seven round limit was recently contested by United States District Judge William Skretny, while he upheld the regulations regarding the purchase of ammunition.
“The enforcement for that is the state police,” Yates County Sheriff Ron Spike said. “That’s who people have to register with if they are going to sell ammunition. They are the primary law enforcement agency for enforcing it.”
Spike said one of the more controversial aspects of the SAFE Act revolved around the limit on magazine capacities, which was recently struck down by Skretny.
“Most of the original negativity to the safe act was the seven rounds restriction part which was just struck down by the judge,” Spike said. “I believed it was unrealistic and baseless then, and agree with the court’s recent decision.”
Spike said his department is working on figuring out how the new ammunition regulation will affect the way rounds are purchased for his officers.
“We are trying to see, from an agency point of view, we have always bought our ammunition on the state bid,” Spike said. “Sometimes those vendors are out of New York State. Quite frankly, we are trying to find out what the legalities are for us to purchase ammunition out of state. I’m getting the answers to some of those questions to what we can and cannot do as an agency as well.”
Director of Public Information for the New York State Police Darcy Wells said there are two requirements that went into effect Wednesday, Jan. 15. She said the first is the law that requires all sellers of ammunition to register with state police and the second law that requires all ammunition transfers to take place face-to-face and be facilitated by a New York State ammunition dealer. Wells said these provisions went into effect on that date.
Wells also said the SAFE Act law also provides that background check and record keeping requirements imposed on all retail sellers of ammunition are scheduled to take effect 30 days after the Superintendent of the New York State Police certifies that a statewide license and record database is created for such a process. She said the certification has not yet been made and the system is being developed. Wells said there is no start date of Jan. 15 for that element of the law to begin.
Despite the controversial nature of the SAFE Act, Spike said he believes most residents will remain in compliance.
“Most people try to comply with the laws,” Spike said. “This one is very controversial and that is why there are these lawsuits that are pending now. It has a lot of controversy in it as to how it starts to affect somebody’s Second Amendment Rights, so I understand the concern.”
Steuben County Sheriff David V. Cole issued a reminder to county residents about the changes to regulations regarding ammunition sales are now in effect.
“The stated aim of these provisions is to protect the public by keeping ammunition out of the hands of those prohibited from possessing it under federal and state law, including criminals and the dangerously mentally ill,” Cole said.
Cole said the requirement ammunition sales be conducted in person also applies to online sales, which must be facilitated by a New York State ammunition seller. He said organizations like shooting ranges and hunting clubs may also register to continue to receive direct shipments of ammunition at www.nysafeact.com. Cole said under the New York State Criminal Procedure Law, units of government that employ peace or police officers are not required to register and are able to buy ammunition for official use and receive direct shipments.