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SAFE Act deadline arrives for registering assault weapons
SCHOHARIE -- Time is running out if you're the owner of an assault weapon in New York and haven't registered it. Tuesday is the day you're required to register under the SAFE Act. People have threatened that they would not, in protest. Some estimate one to two million New Yorkers own assault weapons, but there are no estimates on how many have registered them.
There are plenty of unknowns -- who will comply, who has already, and how compliance will be enforced.
"It is such a flawed piece of legislation," said gun owner James Darrah. "I've said from day one that it should be scraped."
Darrah is also a competitive shooter, and a pistol safety instructor. He says the controversial law is confusing and conflicting for him and other gun owners. "It frustrates them terribly," Darrah said. "The people that I know that own firearms are legal firearms owners. We go to great lengths to maintain our legality."
Fifteen months after the SAFE Act was signed in to law, a provision requiring assault-style rifle owners takes effect. It is unclear who already has. Darcy Wells, a spokesperson for the New York State Police, said "a provision in the SAFE Act pertaining to confidentiality prevents the State Police from releasing information releated to the registration of assault weapons including the number of weapons registered."
When asked if he believes most assault-style rifle owners in Schoharie County have registered or plan to register, Sheriff Tony Desmond said, "I don't think they will register them. It'll be a very low a number of people who register, if any of them do."
Sheriff Desmond said someone would likely have to commit another crime before police found a gun which wasn't SAFE Act compliant."
"We're not going to be out looking for any any weapons," Desmond said. "Certainly if someone commits a crime using one of these weapons we'd have to do something but we certainly don't have the time or the manpower to go out and look for these weapons. There's more important things that we need to do."
The State Police says that failure to register an assault-style rifle is punishable as a class A misdemeanor and forfeiture of the firearm or firearms. If failure to register is deemed to be unintentional, a 30-day amnesty period will be extended so that person could register the weapon without being prosecuted.