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NY SAFE Act Magazine Capacity: Assumptions

I AM NOT A LAWYER.

To review, PL 265.00 Section 23 as amended defines a large capacity magazine (a.k.a. “ammunition feeding device”):

23. “Large capacity ammunition feeding device” means a magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device, that
(a) has a capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than ten rounds of ammunition, or

PL 265.36, defines unlawful possession:

§ 265.36 Unlawful possession of a large capacity ammunition feeding device.

It shall be unlawful for a person to knowingly possess a large capacity ammunition feeding device manufactured before September thirteenth, nineteen hundred ninety-four, and if such person lawfully possessed such large capacity feeding device before the effective date of the chapter of the laws of two thousand thirteen which added this section, that has a capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than ten rounds of ammunition.

Despite the period at the end, that’s not actually a complete sentence.

Taken together, both sections assert that a magazine with “a capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than ten rounds of ammunition” is (or will be, as of one year from the effective date of the legislation:15 January 2014) illegal.

The wording implies that an existing, formerly legal “large capacity” magazine can be brought into compliance by a modification that limits its capacity to ten rounds, with the caveat that actually inserting more than seven rounds may be illegal, depending on the situation and the effect of various amendments to PL 265.00, as discussed previously.

The legislation requires such a modified magazine must not be “readily restored or converted” to hold more than ten rounds. I cannot find the legislative definition of “readily”, despite some diligent searching. As mentioned earlier, the NY State Police guidelines use the word “permanently”, a much stronger word than “readily”, seemingly without basis in the law.

Merriam-Webster defines it thusly (slightly reformatted):


read·i·ly
adverb \ˈre-də-lē\
: quickly and easily
: in a way that shows you are willing to do something
: without hesitation or complaint
Full Definition of READILY
: in a ready manner: as
a : without hesitating : willingly <readily accepted advice>
b : without much difficulty : easily <for reasons that anyone could readily understand>

The full definition suggests that, in order to be “readily restored or converted”, the process must be both temporally short (“without hesitating”) and easy to accomplish (“without much difficulty”).

I realize that the legislature sometimes uses words in a special way, but it’s been two weeks since I asked my legislators for clarification and haven’t heard anything substantive, so I’m doing the best I can with what I have.

It also seems reasonable to assume “readily” includes the notion of something an ordinary person could do, without special tools. An experienced machinist in a well-equipped shop can readily accomplish tasks that seem impossible, right up through building a complete magazine (or, heck, a firearm) from scratch; permanently has no real meaning.

On that scale, I’m much closer to an ordinary person than an experienced machinist, but perhaps I can come up with a magazine modification that isn’t readily un-do-able.

I also assume any magazine modification should meet some practical requirements, even though they’re not spelled out in the legislation:

  • Safety – no change to OEM material specifications, properties, or designs
  • Function – no change to OEM specified operation or maintenance
  • Reliability – no change to critical dimensions or mechanical features

In short, the smaller and fewer the changes required to reduce the magazine capacity, the better.

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  1. #1 by Jason Doege on 2013-11-25 - 09:45

    I notice that amongst the words used to describe an ammunition feeding device they do not include the word, “hopper” nor a synonym or similar term. I also was pondering the possibility of a feed mechanism that accepts more than one magazine. Silly, silly laws bound by the limits of our lawmakers’ imaginations.

    • #2 by Ed on 2013-11-25 - 10:16

      I’ll be discussing the mechanical aspects here, as there are other venues much better suited for political and legal discussions…

  2. #3 by david on 2013-11-25 - 16:23

    FYI, that definition of “readily” is *not* the one that has been held to apply to firearms in the past. In particular, interpretations of BATFE regulations that use phrases like “readily converted” have been *extremely* generous towards the government. While, yes, federal and state are disjoint, the courts of NY are probably even more inclined to come down against the citizens than are the federal courts. I’m really not sure where you’re going with this thread… but as a rule, when it comes to guns, technicalities *never* work.

    http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2012/02/robert-farago/there-is-no-such-thing-as-an-80-gun-unless-there-is/

    • #4 by Ed on 2013-11-25 - 16:39

      but as a rule, when it comes to guns, technicalities *never* work

      Absolutely. Known to be true. Not planning to play that card.

      Given that I blog about (most of) the stuff that goes on in the shop, I figure there’s no good reason to not write up what I’m doing. Suffice it to say that I’m not in the least optimistic about the outcome, but it’ll be interesting to work it out in public and, who knows, it may be a useful resource.

      For sure, it’s an interesting application of 3D printing & rapid prototyping… [grin]

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