With some tearing up gun registration forms in public protest on Tuesday, some 1 million New York gun owners shrugged off an April 15 deadline to register assault-style weapons under a tough post-Sandy Hook gun control law.
The rebellious stance is being taken by a subgroup of Americans who often make a show of being “law-abiding.” But it’s now set off a possible standoff with the New York State Police over registering assault-style weapons – a sore subject in a country simmering with gun-confiscation fears after myriad high-profile shootings.
For now, gun rights experts say, the outcome in New York is uncertain. Will the state take the initiative to seize unregistered weapons? If it doesn’t, will the new gun controls be exposed as toothless, even meaningless?
“The line in the sand has been drawn, and if Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to send state police out on house-to-house searches and put hundreds of thousands of people in prison, they can do that,” says Dave Kopel, research director at the Independence Institute, a free-market think tank in Denver.
Tuesday’s protests were another sign of New York emerging as a battleground on gun issues. In late 2012, The Journal News in White Plains, N.Y., drew heavy criticism after publishing addresses of pistol permit holders in the county. Just this week, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged $50 million toward a national effort called Everytown for Gun Safety, focused on improving background checks.
As for the legislation in question, the SAFE Act, it bans semiautomatic rifles that can take detachable magazines and those with military features like pistol grips, folding stocks, second hand grips, bayonet mounts, and flash suppressors.
New York residents who already own those guns can legally keep them so long as they register them with the state – the failure of which is punishable as a misdemeanor and, possibly, a felony.
Your move, Mr. Governor. Are you going to issues warrants, and arrest a million of your taxpaying citizens, or are you going to do nothing?
Dissent is patriotic. Right?