It is crucial for gun owners to fully understand the laws where they live. For example, gun owners in New York must know what constitutes an assault weapon.
While these weapons are not banned according to state laws, they do require special attention from gun owners to ensure they remain in compliance. Here are a few key points to keep in mind.
What features make a firearm an assault weapon?
In order to classify a pistol, rifle, or shotgun as an assault weapon, the firearm must have certain features. Assault weapons are generally semiautomatic (one exception being a shotgun with a revolving cylinder), meaning that after firing a round, the next round automatically loads when the chamber is empty. Simply being semiautomatic however, does not in and of itself classify a firearm as an assault weapon in New York State. There must also be an additional feature that is banned by the penal code. While § 265.00 (22) outlines at length the various banned features, I’ll list a few of them here. Some of the banned features that will cause your otherwise legal semiautomatic pistol (that has the ability to accept a detachable magazine) to be considered an assault weapon include, a folding or telescoping stock, a barrel capable of accepting a barrel extender, flash suppressor, or silencer, or even if the pistol has a manufactured weight of fifty ounces or more when it’s unloaded. As for the banned features on a semiautomatic rifle, many are similar to that of the pistol, but also include a bayonet mount, a grenade launcher, or an ability to accept a detachable magazine. Bearing that in mind, if you have any question about a firearm that you own/are looking to purchase, your best course of action is to consult an attorney with your question.
What should I do if I have an assault weapon?
If you determine that a firearm you own falls into the assault weapon category, you must register it with the State Police. The State Police will then review your background to determine whether you can lawfully own the firearm. For example, people with previous convicted felonies or involuntary mental health commitments on record are not allowed to own assault weapons.
How do you register a firearm with the State Police?
You can register your weapon easily without paying a fee. You can fill out the form online or complete a paper copy and mail it to the State Police. They will conduct a background check on your behalf, so you will not need to provide any back-up documentation or other information. They will inform you of the results of the background check when it is complete.
You can also remove the banned features from the weapon to change its classification. In this case, registration is not necessary since the firearm is no longer considered an assault weapon.