With the State Police declining to appeal an earlier trial court decision ordering them to release the data, the number of people who have registered assault style weapons under the SAFE Act became public on Monday.
“I’m grinning from ear to ear,” said Rochester lawyer Paloma Capana, who successfully sued on behalf of a client for the information.
The bottom line: 23,847 people since the 2013 law took effect have applied to register assault style weapons. A total of 44,485 weapons have been registered.
Here’s a breakdown by county of applications to register assault weapons since Jan. 15, 2013:
Kings (Brooklyn) 54
New York (Manhattan) 1,640
Richmond (Staten Island) 52
Saint Lawrence 259
(Source: New York State Police)
And here is the court document with the registration data. Registration statistics are in the last five pages or so: NYSP Gun Stats PDF
The data had been withheld following an earlier request under the state’s Freedom of Information Law.
She had filed suit on behalf of Rochester radio host Bill Robinson under Article 78, a proceeding that allows legal actions against the state. She argued in State Supreme Court in Albany County that there was no reason the simple number of registrations should be kept secret.
The plaintiff’s FOIL was submitted on Jan. 27, 2014, and prompted the standard letter from a State Police Records Access Officer noting its receipt and promising another response within 20 days.
But then the State Police fell silent, ignoring two letters from Robinson sent in April and June. In July, he filed an appeal based on the contention that the non-response was a denial, and the judge agreed.
One of the highlights of the SAFE, or Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act is a ban on ”assault-style” weapons, which are defined as having military-type features such as a pistol grip or flash suppressor.
Weapons such as civilian versions of the M16 military rifle, or the Soviet-designed AK47 are popular examples of the guns banned under the law.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushed the bill though at the start of 2013, just weeks after the Newtown, Conn. school massacre.
People who already owned assault style weapons, though, were grandfathered but they were supposed to register them with the State Police in April 2014.
Critics believed that was an intrusion into their privacy, and as the logistics of tracking the registration became clear, many predicted that only a handful of people would actually register their guns.
Capanna said that appears to be the case, with fewer than 45,000 weapons being registered.
While there is no firm count, observers have estimated there could be hundreds of thousands or even a million assault-style weapons in New York.
In Connecticut, which later passed a similar registration law, 50,016 weapons have been registered.
But with a population five times that of the Nutmeg State, fewer weapons have been registered in New York, suggesting widespread non-compliance.
Additionally, local police including several county sheriffs, have opposed parts of the SAFE Act and suggested that enforcement of the registration component was not a priority.
The trial court decision, from Acting Supreme Court Justice Thomas McNamara, directed the State Police to release 15 categories of information related to the state registry, including detailed geographic breakdowns (including county and ZIP code) and the number of applications as opposed to actual registrations.
There is also a breakdown of pistols, shotguns and rifles that were registered.
Source: Times Union