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Report: Up to one million New York gun owners set to disregard gun control law

SAFE Act gun registration deadline is April 15.
SAFE Act gun registration deadline is April 15.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

April 15 is not only tax day, it is also the deadline for New York gun owners to register their "assault weapons" and high-capacity magazines in accordance with the SAFE Act, the new gun control law signed by Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year. But, Bearing Arms said Monday, as many as one million gun owners in that state appear ready to disregard the law, citing a report at Forbes.

According to Bearing Arms, unofficial estimates suggest that just 3,000-5,000 of the estimated 1-2 million firearms redefined as “assault weapons” under New York’s new law have been registered. Those who fail to register their weapons, Forbes added, could be found guilty of a class A misdemeanor, and sentenced to a year in prison. USA Today said they could also face a felony charge for illegal possession of an assault weapon.

The exact number of so-called "assault weapons" is unknown, because, USA Today said, state authorities have refused to disclose the number of registrants. According to state police, the law requires that information be kept confidential.

Gun owners do have other choices. They can get rid of their firearms completely or modify them so they do not fall under the category of an "assault weapon."

Stephen Aldstadt, president of the Shooters Committee on Political Education, told USA Today he's heard from a growing number of gun owners who are modifying their weapons. Others, he added, are simply ignoring the requirement to register.

"We don't encourage people to disobey the law, but we are hearing very much from people that they are not going to register at all or they are going to make modifications so it doesn't qualify as an assault weapon," he said.

"People are doing all sorts of things," John Elms, president of the Broome County, N.Y., Sportsmen's Association, told USA Today. "They're modifying them. Some people have gotten rid of them. You don't have much of a choice. It's entirely up to the individual what they do."

Forbes' Frank Miniter said he spoke to one gun owner who modified his shotgun to make it compliant with the law. It still holds nine rounds, the gun owner said, sarcastically telling Miniter the world is safer now that the "evil" pistol grip has been removed.

Leah Gunn Barrett, executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, said gun owners should simply obey the law.

"They can make all the noise they want, but the law is the law," Barrett said. "The New York SAFE Act was passed by a bipartisan legislature, signed by Gov. Cuomo well over a year ago. It's being implemented, and people are expected to comply with the law."

In March, a number of gun owners burned gun registration forms at a rally in upstate New York. According to USA Today, a number of pro-Second Amendment rallies have taken place in the state.