Growing up in New York City, I never gave second thought to gun laws. However, a trip to a firing range in Winterhaven, Florida changed a 21-year outlook.
As I boarded a plane bound for Tampa International Airport, the idea of going to a gun range was present but it was an afterthought if anything. Going to the range would be great, but not a necessity to the enjoyment of the trip. Going to the range for the first time, I was expecting a good old boys club, the kind of place where outsiders are unwelcomed and the regulars are less than chipper.
This may have been the outlook of someone who is naïve about the world of shooting and never even picked up a gun before. After a twenty-minute course that taught me how to safely handle a gun, I was shooting a Glock 17, a gun that is illegal in New York City.
The Glock 17 is illegal in New York City due to the size of its magazine. Within city limits, under the new SAFE Act, any magazine that holds more than 10 rounds is illegal. The Glock 17, as the name implies, holds 17 rounds.
The SAFE Act is a piece of legislation passed in New York that tightens the reigns of which guns can be owned and purchased in New York City. Unlike other provisions of the SAFE Act, the limit on the size of magazines includes previously bought magazines, too. Meaning, that even if you bought a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds before the act was put into law, you must either turn it into local authorities or sell it to an out of state buyer within one year after the law was enacted.
This can be of concern because other sections of the act do not retroactively apply however, this clause does. Gun owners shouldn’t be concerned with this aspect of the law because there is no need to have that many rounds ready to be used at once.
The section defining an assault weapon is more troubling. This section defines an assault weapon by various features. Many of the features that are prohibited are common sense, such as attached grenade launchers and modifications designed to hide the identity of a weapon. However, the law also prohibits folding or telescoping stocks and a pistol grip that “protrudes conspicuously from beneath the action of the weapon,” according to the legislation.
This means that the field of buying choices for gun enthusiasts is cut nearly in half, leaving only weapons with solid stocks and no pistol grips, which are also known as hunting weapons. It is important to note that this part of the law only applies to rifles and shotguns, since a pistol inherently has a pistol grip. With that being said, I think the new stricter laws are too strict.
The new laws are not going to prevent the usage of guns in an unlawful way, nor are the new laws going to prevent assault weapons from coming into the city. All the laws are going to cause are more weapons to be moved illegally into the city and into the hands of those who wish to use them for less than admirable reasons rather than through legal channels.
My recommendation is to make it illegal to bring a gun into the city without it being inspected at the city limits and those in possession of the weapons must have all the correct forms. This way, illegal weapons are stopped before they get into the city and before they can be used in illicit ways.
This is not to say that the SAFE Act does not do a large amount of good. Two of the positives that come out of this act are that it is now a felony to bring a gun into a school zone and the penalty for killing a first responder has been upgraded to life in prison without the possibility of parole. These harsher punishments could be deterrent enough to potential criminals, but there is still little to be done about those who illegally acquire guns and use said guns knowing full well what awaits them.
This gap is one that New York City must close to keep the streets and its citizens safe.