False information causing NYS SAFE Act confusion
Friday, May 30, 2014 - 8:33 am

Letter to Editor:

Over the past year, I have noticed that the majority of public discourse involving Second Amendment jurisprudence and the right to bear arms has been overrun by factually incorrect information. This is why I wrote my senior thesis on the Second Amendment and the NYS Safe Act.

A recent letter to the editor titled “Cosmetic Changes Do Not Alter Dangers,” the author stated “Sheriff Kevin Wells is incorrect in stating that it [the NYS SAFE Act] is merely “cosmetics” that classify assault firearms.” Fortunately for St. Lawrence County, our Sheriff is spot on when it comes to the law.

In case there is any confusion, a google search of Subdivision 22 of § 265.00 of the penal law will provide the NYS definition of an assault rifle. The statute addresses mostly cosmetics with few provisions that address functionality.

Some of the provisions have been overturned in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Cuomo. However, most of the statute still holds. The state chose to deem a firearm with a detachable magazine and a pistol grip an “assault rifle,” but failed to legitimately focus on the mechanical functions or features of these firearms.

The author was also confused when he stated “a .22 rifle designed to look like an AR-15 is all about the cosmetic appearance and under the SAFE Act these weapons are not regulated or required to be registered.” I caution him to immediately register the weapon he is referring to; according to the statute, if the rifle is what he says it is, more likely than not it is an assault rifle. The good news is that unneeded and pointless legislation can always be circumvented by American ingenuity. Firearm manufacturers are currently producing what is being called a “NY Compliant AR-15.” This rifle is mechanically identical to an AR-15, but cosmetically different to the point where it is no longer by definition an “assault rifle.” While being ugly, this rifle is 100% NYS SAFE and can be purchased through your local gun dealer.

I firmly believe that candid discussion about the issues are vitally important to democracy, and that it is what separates us from the rest of the world.

Nevertheless, a commitment to truth in the public sphere is necessary to gain value out of these discussions.

Matthew Flynn II