20 January 2013

Handguns and non-assault weapons

There are many changes to the existing gun control scheme in the SAFE Act that deal with non-assault weapons, but the one that has been generating the most controversy is the so-called seven-bullet limit on clips and magazines.*1 Like the new assault weapon provisions, the legislature imposed the new requirements largely by amending existing limits. In this case, the definition of "Large capacity ammunition feeding device" does the heavy lifting. Before the SAFE Act, clips and magazines were limited to a ten-bullet capacity. The new law keeps that capacity limit for clips and magazines obtained prior to the effective date of the SAFE Act, but limits the amount of bullets that can actually be contained in the clip/magazine at any one time to seven. Clips and magazines obtained after the effective date of the SAFE Act must have a capacity of seven bullets or less.

So, gun owners with existing 10-round clips/magazines can keep them and not run afoul of the new law, so long as the clips are never loaded with more than 7 bullets.*2 Any clip/magazine obtained after the effective date of the law is limited to 7 bullet capacity. Possession of a "large capacity ammunition feeding device"--i.e a clip obtained post-Safe Act with more than 7 bullet capacity, or a 10-round capacity grandfathered in actually containing more than seven bullets, is a class A misdemeanor.*3

The other big non-assault weapon change is that simple possession of an unlicensed "firearm" is now a felony (upgraded from a misdemeanor under the old law). It is also a felony to knowingly fail to register a previously licensed "firearm" under the new SAFE Act. The definition of a "firearm" has not changed, and includes "any pistol or revolver " and a shotgun or rifle with a barrel less than 16" in length.

As noted, the licensing requirements have changed, and I'll wade into that mess in due time. Next, though, I'll highlight the non-controversial provisions of the SAFE Act; that is, changes that I can't imagine any constituency taking issue with.

UP NEXT: can't we all just get along?

*1 Or as my friend Matt noted after the law was passed: in New York, you get one bullet for each deadly sin, and that's it.

*2 This is the kind of clunky, silly distinction that you get when you ram through comprehensive gun control reform on the double-quick.

*3 There is no limit on the number of 7-round clips that a person can carry at one time, at least so far as I can tell. If you want to carry 100 rounds, you'll have to carry 15 clips instead of 10.

No comments:

Post a Comment