American Gun Registration: NY SAFE Act Failure Illustrates Why Gun Registration Will Always Fail In America

NY Safe Act Protest (image source:

“Registration Leads To Confiscation” is practically a mantra among gun rights advocates. Despite many who claim that it’s not true or it’s some extremist exaggeration, it has happened right here in America on multiple occasions. The NY SAFE Act is the latest example of both that premise being true and the abject failure of gun registration in America. There is another mantra among many Americans as well, “I WILL NOT COMPLY.” Which appears to be exactly the case in NY, although the NY State Police fought to keep that failure to comply a secret. The full scope of New Yorker’s noncompliance was only revealed following a lawsuit brought by a New York gun rights organization. In 2014, the New York State Police rejected requests for the number of semi-automatic weapons registered in compliance with the SAFE Act. On April 30, New York Supreme Court Acting Justice Thomas J. McNamara determined that the state police had improperly withheld the information from the public, and ordered them to turn over the registration data.

Out of an estimated 1 million semi-automatic firearms in New York State, only 44,485 were registered in accordance with the SAFE Act requirements. That’s roughly 4% of the estimated applicable firearms in the state. Following the passage of the SAFE Act, many New York gun owners made it clear that they would not register their firearms by the April 15, 2014 deadline during protests across the state. A gun rights advocate at the Saratoga Springs rally, told a local newspaper, “We are opposed to registration because the evidence is clear that registration leads to confiscation.” There’s that line again, “registration leads to confiscation,” but really people… Not In America, right?


NY Safe Act Protest (image Source:

NY Safe Act Protest
(image Source:

In 1967, New York City enacted a law requiring the registration of rifles and shotguns. Subsequently, in 1991 the city banned many semi-automatic firearms. Legally purchased arms, legally registered with the state, suddenly become illegal with the stroke of a pen. NYC opened up the registry and informed all of those legal gun owners that their property was now illegal and they must be removed from the five boroughs, permanently disabled, or relinquished to the authorities. Granted, it’s not the door-kicking, guns blazing kind of confiscation most people visualize, but it is confiscation nonetheless. NY did the same thing again in 2013, when the NYPD sent out another round of letters to New York City gun owners, once again demanding the removal, destruction, or surrender of legally registered firearms made illegal by a subsequent law.

Connecticut is another attempted registration failure, a 2013 law required residents to register certain types of semi-automatic firearms, and individual magazines with a capacity greater than 10, by January 1, 2014. Out of the several hundred thousand estimated guns and 2.4 million estimated magazines that were required to be registered by the deadline, Connecticut gun owners had registered 50,016 firearms and a mere 38,290 magazines.

Similarly, in 1989 California enacted a law requiring registration of certain semi-automatic firearms. According to a February 17, 1992 Los Angeles Times article, in the years since enactment only 46,062 semi-automatics were registered. The article goes on to note, “The state Department of Justice has estimated there are 200,000 to 300,000. Others have calculated as many as 450,000 to 600,000.” The authorities attempted to bolster the lackluster compliance with a 90-day amnesty period at the start of 1992; this program only netted another 13,470 firearms.

New Jersey’s semi-automatic ban had comparable results as well. An April 17, 1992 New York Times article titled, “Owners of Assault Guns Slow to Obey Law,” notes, “In New Jersey, which enacted an assault weapon ban in 1990, 2,000 weapons have been surrendered, made inoperable or registered as collectors’ items, according to the State Police. The state Attorney General’s office estimates that there are between 20,000 and 50,000 assault weapons in New Jersey.”

I think it’s fair to say that when the NY SAFE Act, billed as the “smartest gun law in America” is a complete and utter failure, as have been every other similar attempt at registration and/or confiscation, it might be time to rethink your approach. When otherwise law-abiding, honest and hard-working Americans say “I Will Not Comply” you can bank on it. When those same people say that “registration leads to confiscation,” well they have actual case history to support that view, right here in the good old US of A.

If you can’t get otherwise law-abiding citizens to comply, how reasonable is it to expect criminals to comply? Common Sense Anyone?


About the Author

Jon Britton
Joining the U.S. Air Force right out of high school, Jon had the opportunity to experience many different parts of the world and different cultures. His post military career path, both white collar and blue collar, allowed him to work alongside both CEOs and average Joes. "Writing was never a goal or even vaguely contemplated as a career choice, it just happened, an accidental discovery of a talent and a passion." A passion that has taken him in many directions from explorations of the zombie subculture and writing zombie stories to politics and News. He is an avid "people watcher," political junkie and has a ravenous appetite for history and current events alike.