NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Key measures of New York’s tough new gun law kicked in Monday, with owners of firearms now reclassified as assault weapons required to start registering the firearms and new limits on the number of bullets allowed in magazines.
The New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, the state’s National Rifle Association affiliate, has a pending federal lawsuit against the new provisions.
Attorney Brian Stapleton said the request for an immediate halt to the magazine limit would be filed electronically, probably late Monday or possibly early Tuesday.
New York’s new gun restrictions, the first in the nation passed following December’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., limit state gun owners to no more than seven bullets in magazines, except at competitions or firing ranges.
The law violates the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens “to keep commonly possessed firearms” at home for self-defense and for other lawful purposes, the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association said in court papers.
Association president Tom King said they are advising members to obey the law until it’s proven unconstitutional.
“We are lawful and legal citizens of New York state and we always obey the law,” King said. “It’s as simple as that.”
The new registrations, required over the next year, will be the group’s focus later, King said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo called those and other provisions in the state’s new gun law common sense while dismissing criticisms he says come from “extreme fringe conservatives” who claim the government has no right to regulate guns.
New York’s gun legislation also banned in-state sales of guns classified as assault weapons and requires federal background checks for private firearms sales performed by licensed gun dealers.
It also requires mental health professionals to report patients they may feel likely to hurt themselves or others seriously.
The toughest part of the new statute, banning in-state sales of those guns newly classified as “assault weapons,” immediately took effect Jan. 15.
The new classification related to a single military-style feature, such as a pistol grip on semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines. Other listed features include a folding or thumbhole stock, bayonet mount, flash suppressor, or second protruding grip held by the non-trigger hand.
It requires owners to register an estimated 1 million guns previously not classified as assault weapons by April 15, 2014, though law enforcement officials acknowledge they don’t know exactly how many such guns New Yorkers have.
The assault weapon definition also applies to some shotguns and handguns. They include shotguns that are semi-automatic or self-loading and have another feature, such as a folding stock, a second handgrip held by the non-shooting hand or the ability to accept a detachable magazine.
Also covered are semi-automatic pistols that can take detachable magazines and have another feature, such as a folding or thumbhole stock, a second handgrip and a threaded barrel that can accept a silencer.
Many county boards in New York have passed resolutions urging at least partial repeal of the law while warning that new registration requirements would be a costly burden on them.
The statute originally banned magazines with more than seven bullets effective April 15. Connecticut officials said that Newtown shooter Adam Lanza used a semi-automatic Bushmaster AR-15 and five 30-round magazines to kill 20 children and six adults in minutes.
However, acknowledging that manufacturers don’t make seven-bullet magazines, the Cuomo administration and New York lawmakers amended their law on March 29, keeping 10-bullet magazines legal but generally illegal to load them with more than seven bullets.
State Police posted forms Monday on their website for registration, which can be filed electronically. Owners of those guns, now banned from in-state sales, are required within a year to register them. Alternatively, they can legally sell them to a licensed dealer or out of state by next Jan. 15.
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