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New NY Law Criminalizes the Sale of Untraceable Ghost Guns

Three recently passed pieces of legislation in the Empire State are aimed at stemming the spike in gun violence. The laws are now in effect.

“Gun violence is a public health and public safety crisis that must be dealt with aggressively,” said New York Governor Kathy Hochul. The governor said that ghost gun seizures have increased nearly 480% over the last four years.

Below is an overview of the new legislation.

Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act

The act (Legislation S.14A/A.613A) criminalizes the sale of ghost guns and requires gunsmiths to register firearms as well as the unfinished frames and receivers they assemble. Ghost guns are typically sold as incomplete kits. The buyer assembles the gun from the kit.

The law does the following:

  • Defines a ghost gun as any firearm, rifle, or shotgun that isn’t serialized and registered
  • Prohibits the possession of a ghost gun by anyone other than a licensed gunsmith or dealer
  • Criminalizes all sales of ghost guns
  • Makes illegal the manufacture or assembly of a firearm, rifle, or shotgun by anyone other than a licensed gunsmith or dealer
  • Requires all NY gunsmiths to serialize all weapons or unfinished frames or receivers that they manufacture or assemble
  • Mandates that all gunsmiths register any such gun or unfinished frame or receiver that isn’t otherwise covered by federal serialization law

The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Bray Hoylman and Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal, whose districts include parts of Manhattan. Anyone already owning a ghost gun has six months to either hand them over to law enforcement or to have the weapon registered and serialized. Criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree is a class A misdemeanor. The sale or manufacture of ghost guns can result in Class E or Class D felony, depending on the specifics of the case.

Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receiver Act

The act (Legislation S.13A/A.2666A) was named for Long Island native Scott J. Beigel, a teacher who was killed in the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. The law prohibits the possession and sale of unfinished frames and receivers. Depending on the crime, violators will be guilty of a first-degree or second-degree Class D or Class E felony.

The law does the following:

  • Defines an unfinished frame or receiver
  • Makes possession of an unfinished frame or receiver illegal for anyone other than a licensed gunsmith or dealer
  • Bans the possession of major components of a firearm, rifle, or shotgun for anyone who is prohibited from possessing such weapons
  • Criminalizes the sale or transfer of an unfinished frame or receiver to anyone other than a licensed gunsmith or dealer

The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Anna M. Kaplan, whose district includes northwest Nassau County, and Assemblymember Charles Lavine. His 13th Assembly District includes many communities in Nassau County.

Expanding the Definition of Disguised Gun

Legislation S.7152/A.6522 amends the definition of “disguised gun” to include weapons designed to look like a toy. The possession, manufacture, or design of such guns are illegal. This bill was sponsored by Sen. John E. Brooks, who represents eastern Nassau County and western Suffolk County. Violators are guilty of a Class D felony.

Increasing Levels of Gun Violence

In related news, New York City Mayor Eric Adams outlined policy proposals to help curb gun violence. As reported in his “Blueprint to End Gun Violence,” NYPD confiscated more than 6,000 guns in 2021 and 350 illegal guns in the first three weeks of 2022.

New York is not an outlier. A study published in Scientific Reports points to an increase in gun violence across the United States since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Not everyone is convinced that the new legislation will impact criminal activity. Tom King, executive director of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, has said that illegal guns will continue to move along the criminal network. The NRA-ILA, the lobbying arm of the National Rifle Association, said in a February 2021 statement that the anti-gun legislation is grandstanding. Criminals “are not interested in costly equipment and the time-consuming and laborious process of manufacturing their own firearms.”

Gun Violations Are Serious Charges

Any felony violation carries hefty penalties. A Class D felony, for example, can mean spending seven years behind bars. Even worse, felonies can continue to affect your life long after you have served any sentence. You could lose your professional license, have difficulty finding new employment, and be denied when you apply for housing, loans, or educational programs.

Misdemeanor charges also stain your record and are punishable by one year behind bars.

If you are charged with violating any new gun laws or other weapons infractions, contact the skilled attorneys at Collins Gann McCloskey & Barry PLLC. We are dedicated to each client’s unique circumstances and build a defense that aggressively fights for their rights.

Time is of the essence in criminal cases. Contact us right away if you are facing accusations or if you believe you might be charged in the future. Your initial consultation is free. Contact us online or call (516) 218-5131 to schedule.