On the eve of a state mandate requiring registration of so-called "assault weapon" registration, the Livingston County Conservative Party is seeking clarification from the district attorney's office regarding enforcement of the SAFE Act. Today Jason J. McGuire, Chairman of the Livingston County Conservative Party, sent the following text in a letter to Livingston County District Attorney Greg McCaffrey.
Today is the day that New Yorkers must either register their so-called “assault weapons” or face potential legal consequences for failing to do so. As you no doubt know, there has been a great deal of controversy and consternation concerning this issue in our county. Adding to what I believe to be legitimate concerns regarding the overreach of government is contradictory information regarding impending enforcement of the New York State SAFE Act.
It is my understanding that if a gun owner is found to have willfully violated the state’s registration requirement, they could face either a misdemeanor for failing to register or a felony for illegal possession of an assault weapon (as defined by the Guide to the New York State Safe Act for Members of the Division of State Police. It would appear that the SAFE Act allows for either charge. Lending credence to this interpretation are media reports of a State Police spokesperson statement that indicate the decision will be left up to local prosecutors to determine which charge to pursue. In fact, Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley has stated that if a case is brought to her attention that she will allow the gun owner the opportunity to register the firearm.
However, the above-referenced field guide seems more clear-cut. It says the misdemeanor should apply if the assault weapon was purchased before January 15, 2013 and the felony should apply if the firearm was purchased after that date. According to the guide, if police and prosecutors determine the assault weapon owner missed the deadline due to ignorance of the law, the firearm owner would be allowed thirty days to register their weapon with state police. The State Police field guide does not carry the weight of statute, though.
My reason for writing is to seek clarification from your office as to what firearm owners can expect regarding enforcement of the new law. Is your interpretation of the SAFE Act best reflected by the State Police statement or its field guide? Second, we would like to know what policies and procedures the Livingston County District Attorney’s office has instituted that would comply with law enforcement aspects of the SAFE Act, while still endeavoring to best preserve the Second Amendment Rights of county residents.
Any insight and guidance you can provide to the residents of this county would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. I await your response.
The Livingston County Conservative Party will be sure to post District Attorney McCaffrey's response once it is received.
UPDATE: 04/15/2014 09:36 PM
District Attorney McCaffrey responded quickly to our communication. He wrote, "I appreciate your willingness to reach out to me and welcome the chance to speak with you about the Safe Act and any other issues you wish to address." We're certain we will be meeting soon to discuss these matters. We'll keep you posted.