New York State’s Tough New Gun Laws


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Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs toughest gun control law in the United States into law. Photo credit: Pat Arnow

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs toughest gun control law in the United States into law. Photo credit: Pat Arnow

The state of New York has become the first jurisdiction to pass new guns laws in the wake of the December 14, 2012 mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The new legislation is being touted as the toughest gun law anywhere in the United States. On January 15, 2013, the second day the new legislature sat, the State Assembly approved the new law by a vote of 104-43. The day before, the bill passed the State Senate 43-18.

Within an hour of the vote in the State Assembly, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the legislation into law.

Assault Weapon Ban: Summary of New York’s Gun Law

The law is known as the NY Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act of 2013. Under the Act, the definition of an assault weapon has been changed.

  • Firearms with any features such as a pistol grip, a detachable magazine, a bayonet lug and a flash suppressor are considered ‘assault weapons.’ Under previous New York law, a firearm needed two of these features to be classified as an assault weapon. Under the SAFE Act, a rifle or handgun with only one feature falls under the definition. Owners of previously legal assault weapons may transfer them to a legitimate gun dealer or sell them out of state.
  • All assault weapons must be registered in a police registry and all private sales of firearms must be registered in a state registry. Background checks must be conducted for those who purchase firearms in private sales. These background checks will be provided by licensed dealers who will charge a fee. Background checks will not be required for sales to members of the seller’s immediate family.
  • Retailers who sell ammunition must be registered with the state of New York and must conduct background checks of customers who purchase bullets. Retailers must also keep electronic records of ammunition sales.
  • All sales of firearms and bullets on the Internet are banned.


Nine days after the Sandy Hook shooting, The Journal News, a Lower Hudson Valley, New York newspaper published a map giving the names and addresses of those who had valid gun permits in two New York counties. The names and addresses were obtained through Freedom of Information requests. The SAFE Act bans the release of information to the public of those who are legally able to own firearms.

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