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Deadline for assault weapon registration nears

Mike Saechang

There’s an April 15 deadline for owners of assault-style firearms to register them with the New York State Police, but there’s concern the provision of the SAFE Act gun control laws will be ignored.

After New York passed strict gun control laws in January 2013, sales of assault-style weapons became illegal. But for those who already owned guns with features like a pistol grip and removable magazine, they must register them by Tuesday.

Many Second Amendment advocates see the requirement as a step toward the government seizing their guns. And some are choosing to ignore the registration requirement in protest.

"We’re actually creating a category of criminal from of a group of people, a great majority of whom, never would of broken the law," Chief Deputy John Balloni with the Onondaga County sheriff’s office.

Many county sheriff departments came out last year with concerns over many aspects of the SAFE Act.

Balloni says regardless of feelings on the law, law enforcement agencies have to enforce it. He says they won’t be going out and looking for unregistered guns.

"We certainly understand their concern, but we, at the same time, are a law enforcement agency and can’t advocate that anyone not abide by the law," he said. "And, in fact, we’re charged, if we find a violation in the course of something else, with enforcing the law."

With assault weapons – and their sale – outlawed, Balloni says a black market in unregistered guns could arise.

The assault weapons ownership list will be exempt from Freedom of Information requests. Under the SAFE Act, the state police also do not have to disclose any information about how many guns have been registered. The agency has declined to comment on the program.