Understanding Your Rights as a New York Gun Owner After the New York SAFE Act

Posted on: February 17, 2019

Gun owners in New York should be aware of the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013, which was enacted to stop criminals from buying a gun by requiring universal background checks, increases penalties, and imposes the toughest assault weapons ban in the country. But how does this law affect regular gun owners in New York?  

New York SAFE Act

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed New York’s Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013, also known as the “NYS SAFE Act,” into law on January 15, 2013. As a result of this legislation, New York State implemented changes to its regulation of firearms in New York. The SAFE Act included important provisions, explained easier below

Banning the Possession of “High-Capacity Magazines” (regardless of when they were manufactured or sold)

“High capacity” is defined as greater than 10 rounds. Gun owners may continue to buy, sell, and possess any magazine that can hold up to 10 rounds, regardless of its date of manufacture. Buying, selling, and possession of 10 round magazines, however, is still permitted.

Beginning March 15, 2013, all private handgun, rifle or shotgun sales, or general ownership transfers (with an exception for transfers between certain family members) require a background check for the purchaser. Ammunition dealers are required to conduct background checks for all purchasers.

Creation of a Registry of Assault Weapons

Since the implementation of the SAFE Act, New York citizens owning assault weapons must register with New York State with registration renewed every five years. In addition, the SAFE Act implemented a modified definition of assault weapons with an immediate ban on those weapons.

Fortunately, most guns are not considered assault weapons and weren’t affected by the SAFE Act (including the majority of guns that are used for hunting such as: any pump, lever or bolt action rifle or shotgun cannot be an assault weapon; a traditionally designed handgun; a single shot pistol or a revolver). 

Banning Firearms Considered Assault Weapons Prior to the Passage of the SAFE Act

If a gun owner owned an assault weapon prior to passage of the SAFE Act, the owner must modify its characteristics to de-classify it as an assault weapon or sell it to an out-of-state dealer.

Banning the Sale of Assault Weapons Online

Requiring mental health professionals to immediately report any mental health patient posing a potential threat or danger to others. Being reported by a mental health professional could result in revocation of the owner’s gun. Storing guns safely from any household member convicted of a felony or domestic violence crime or under a court order of protection.

Increasing sentences for gun crimes and penalties for shooting a first responder. Reporting stolen guns within 24-hours; 

Banning the use of Bump Stocks

A bump stock modifies a weapon to simulate a machine gun, and machine guns are illegal in the state. As soon as a bump stock is attached to a firearm, it becomes illegal. But they can be bought and sold in the state without undergoing a background check.


Overall, while New York’s SAFE Act does not limit the right to own and bear arms, it does provide a number of requirements, namely registration and reporting, which gun owners should be aware of to comply. This law does not interfere with the Second Amendment right to own a gun, but it does impose a number of restrictions and requirements that New York citizens must follow. The provisions imposing additional or different requirements are important to note to avoid unnecessary legal problems.

Call (845) 363-1994 to schedule a consultation with Christopher York Attorney at Law in our Brewster office.

NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

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