December 28, 2021| Peter Howard Tilem Content by: Tilem & Associates, PC link here
In October we wrote an extensive blog about the legality of 80% Lowers in New York and indicated at that time that the law in New York could be changing on eighty percent lowers because legislation was pending in Albany. Well later the same day that we here at Tilem & Associates posted that blog, Governor Kathy Hochul signed a package of new legislation which changed the legality of 80 percent lowers in New York.
Among the changes are the fact that that it will be illegal to possess an unfinished receiver or an unfinished frame often referred to as an eighty percent lower. It becomes illegal to possess these unfinished frames or receivers from six months after the date the law becomes effective. Unfinished frames and unfinished receivers are defined very broadly under the law and include any material that doesn’t constitute a receiver or frame but which has been formed and/or shaped to allow it to become a frame or receiver for a shotgun, rifle or pistol and which can be “readily” made into a receiver or frame that is functioning. What readily made means is not defined so it is unknown if a receiver that is 70% finished, 60% finished or only 20% finished would be legal.
The new law makes it a crime to possess unfinished receivers or frames and makes it a separate crime to sell unfinished receivers or frames. This would seemingly make it illegal for internet sellers of firearms parts to sell polymer 80 or other 80% lowers and ship them into New York State.
In addition, the new law appears to create a new crime for possession of a “major component” of a rifle, shotgun or firearm. The new law makes it a crime for a prohibited person to possess a “major component” of any type of gun. This would be a person prohibited under New York or Federal law including those who have been convicted of serious offenses, who have had an Extreme Risk Protection Order issued against them or are prohibited or are prohibited under the Safe Act. Major components include a barrel, slide, cylinder, receiver or frame for a firearm, rifle or shotgun. So under the new law it is illegal for a prohibited person to possess even a non-functioning, inert piece of a gun.
The new legislation, goes further in New York’s quest to punish and throw up road blocks for law abiding gun owners and hobbyists who enjoy hunting, firearms and the shooting sports. It is very unclear how the new laws will do anything to lessen the scourge of violent crimes that are plaguing the streets of our cities. Any hope that Governor Hochul who incidentally was endorsed by the NRA when she ran for Congress years ago would redirect the energies of the State from the anti gun policies of her predecessor Governor Cuomo are certainly shattered.
New York gun owners who have unfinished and unserialized receivers and frames should take the next few months to surrender them, serialize them or sell them out of state. In addition retailers who regularly ship gun parts and 80 percent receivers into New York should take the next several months to put procedures in place to ensure that they do not ship those items to New York State addresses.