State Police aim to clarify gun law confusion

Posted at: 01/30/2013 11:37 PM
By: Dan Levy

SCHENECTADY - To say that the New York SAFE Act is controversial is a major understatement. To say that it's led to confusion and misinformation also seems to understate reality.

State Police were aiming to do something about that Wednesday night in Schenectady, where a meeting room at the county library overflowed its capacity, where troopers had a chance to inform gun owners about what they need to do to comply with the law.

What became immediately clear was that the room was filled with gun law skeptics.

"I do not believe that this law will save one life or stop one school shooting or take one gun out of the hands of criminals," said Steven Baker, of Knox.

What also became clear was that that wasn't the point of the meeting.

"Our purpose is to make you familiar with the law," said State Police Sergeant James Sherman. "Our job is not to justify the law. We didn't craft the law. It was a product of the legislative process."

Once that was settled, state police took the next two hours explaining the new gun laws that prohibit future sales of certain semi-automatic weapons and require gun owners to register their firearms.

Matthew Caron of Galway was concerned about what might happen to his Remington R-15 rifle.

"My understanding of the law is even if I register it, I can't pass the deer rifle that I harvested my first deer with onto my kids."

"You do have the option of modifying the weapon so that it no longer meets the definition of an assault rifle," said Sherman. "You're not subject to just destroying that weapon, a sentimental weapon that you care about deeply, destroyed."

Other people had questions about ammunition and whether they could modify high capacity magazines. One man wanted to know when (and if) the law gets repealed, if the state will continue to hold onto the information they gather.

"We live in a constitutional republic," Investigator Pat Hogan pointed out to the crowd. "We elect our leaders and they make the laws and if we want to fight it, we go through the legislative process or we go through the courts."

Several people indicated concern that once the state has a list of registered gun owners, the next thing to happen would be a seizure of those weapons. Troopers reiterated that is NOT going to happen.

The vast majority of guns, they reminded everyone, are not affected by the law. Also, owners of assault rifles have until April 2014 to register their guns.

If you have an questions about your guns, you can log on to www.NYSafeAct.com or call their hotline at 1 -855-LAW GUNS.