In Part I in our series of blogs covering New York’s so called “assault weapon” ban we began to highlight some of the most troubling parts of a ban on certain weapons based purely on cosmetic features. At Tilem & Campbell we handle a large number of gun and weapons cases and so are in a unique position to see how some of these laws are applied. We continue with other troubling provisions of New York’s assault weapon ban.

One of the most troubling features of the ban is the ban on flash suppressors. The fact is that there are many devices that attach to the barrel of a rifle and which look alike. There is no definition in the New York Penal sec 265.00 of a flash suppressor. Prior to 2004 when the Federal Assault Weapon ban expired the Federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) was responsible for characterizing the various devices that can be attached to the barrel of a gun. Since the federal law expired the BATFE no longer will do that. So manufacturers now attach devices to the barrel of rifles that look like flash suppressors but which manufacturers classify as “muzzle brakes”. These devices look like flash suppressors but are seemingly legal under New York law since the law specifically bans flash suppressors. The problem is that New York does not provide any definition of flash suppressor (or muzzle brake) and the difference can mean the difference between not committing any criminal offense and doing 15 years.

In addition, to the ban on firearms containing certain random cosmetic features, the Federal Assault Weapon Ban also banned detachable magazines that held more than 10 rounds. The ban on detachable magazines similarly expired under Federal Law but still exists in some states. For example New York has a ban on magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds and New Jersey has a ban on magazines that can hold more than 15 rounds. (Since these numbers were selected at random there is no uniformity among the various states that imposed their own ban.)

The New York ban on high capacity magazines, or what are called “Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Devices” in the New York Penal Law only bans such devices manufactured after September 14, 1994. Since firearms magazines do not have serial numbers or date of manufacture this provision of New York’s assault weapon ban is largely unenforceable.

Peter H. Tilem, senior partner at Tilem & Campbell had been a practicing criminal lawyer for 20 years. He started his career as a prosecutor in the New York County district attorney’s Office and was assigned to the Firearms Trafficking Unit in that office. As a defense lawyer he has handled numerous gun and weapons cases with great success. If you or a loved one has been arrested, questioned summoned or charged with any gun or weapons case contact our office to discuss the case. Or you can visit us on the web at for additional information.

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