New York’s New Type of License – Semi Automatic Rifles
Among the new package of laws that were signed into law by Governor Kathy Hochul was the requirement to obtain a license before purchasing or acquiring a new semiautomatic rifle (other than an “assault rifle“). The intention seems to have been to prevent the purchase of rifles by 18, 19 and 20 year old individuals but the law does much more. Notwithstanding, that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California has already ruled a similar California ban on 18, 19 and 20 year old young adults is unconstitutional. Under S.9458/A.10503 Article 400 of the Penal law was amended to create a new type of gun license called a license for a semiautomatic rifle. Similar to licenses to carry pistols the new law says that a license to purchase a semiautomatic rifle obtained outside of New York City will not be valid inside of New York City unless a special permit giving validity is obtained from the New York City Police.
The new law does not make it a crime to own or possess guns which were acquired before the effective date. Rather, the new law makes it a crime to purchase or obtain a new semiautomatic rifle without having the new type of license. The new licenses appear to be issued by the same licensing officers using the same criteria as license for handguns and is almost certain to back up and slow down the already overwhelmed system for obtaining handgun licenses. The new licenses require recertification every five years.
This new law creates two new crimes under the penal law. It will be a class “A” misdemeanor to purchase or obtain a semiautomatic rifle without the new license. In addition, it will be a class “E” Felony to sell a semiautomatic rifle to an unlicensed person. The new crime for selling a semiautomatic rifle to someone who does not possess a license is written in strange way to make it clear that even if the seller thought that the buyer had a license the seller would still be guilty if the buyer did not actually have the license. The new law requires the licensee to have the license on their person when taking possession of a semiautomatic rifle. It would be a misdemeanor violation of Article 400 to purchase a semiautomatic rifle without having the license on your person even if you had a license issued to you.
The new law becomes effective 90 days after it was signed on June 6th, 2022.
New York’s Ban on Body Vests
The new law makes it a crime to purchase but not possess body vests unless a person is employed in an “eligible profession”. Since it appears that the law only makes it a crime to purchase the body vest but not to possess a person could still presumably buy a body vest in New Jersey or Connecticut and drive it into New York. The Unlawful purchase of a body vest by someone not in an authorized profession is a class “A” misdemeanor for a first offense and a felony on a subsequent offense. The sale of a body vest to someone not employed in an eligible profession is a felony for the first offense.
One of the many problems with the new law is that the legislature was trying to get this done so quickly that they didn’t know what professions to make eligible to purchase body armor so they authorized the New York State Department of State in consultation with other agencies such as the New York State Police, NYS Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Corrections to promulgate rules about which professions are eligible.
The law which added section 396-EEE to the General Business Law prohibits internet sales of Body Armor by requiring face to face sales.
One very interesting feature of the new law is that the new law bans the purchase of “Body Vests”. Body vest is already defined in the penal law and was not amended by the new law. Body vests are defined as bullet-resistant, threat level I SOFT BODY ARMOR which specifically excludes plate carriers with ballistic plates. The Buffalo shooter wore a plate carrier with ballistic plates while attacking the supermarket. It is not a ban on the purchase or sale of body armor in the form of hard ballistic plates and carriers.
Prior to the enactment of the this new law, New York previously banned body vests only while committing a violent felony, being armed with a rifle, shotgun or firearm and wearing the vest.
This new law becomes effective 30 days after it was signed on June 6, 2022.
Please contact Tilem & Associates, PC for additional information.