Anybody with a basic knowledge of firearms understands that "assault weapon" is an arbitrary term. Politicians know they don't like it when the peasants own assault weapons, but when they try to ban the things, they end up with semiautomatic firearms that have a checklist of cosmetic features. And the thing about checklists of cosmetic features, such as that adopted by the state of New York, is that you can remove them while still manufacturing functioning firearms.
Among the companies doing exactly that is the Gun Shop At MacGregor's, in Lake Luzerne, New York, which is sticking pistol grip-free stocks on AR-15s (see the photo above). It's magic! Suddenly, the evil, controlled assault weapon becomes a nice, benign rifle untouched by New York's restrictive new law. It still goes BANG, even if it looks a tad awkward to hold.
According to a helpful pamphlet (PDF) from the New York state government, restrictions and registration requirements apply to semiautomatic rifles capable of accepting detachable magazines that have one or more of a specific list of features.
- Folding or telescoping stock
- Protruding pistol grip
- Thumbhole stock
- Second handgrip or protruding grip that can be held by a second non-shooting hand
- Bayonet mount
- Flash suppressor
- Muzzle brake
- Muzzle compensator
- A threaded barrel designed to accommodate the above
- Grenade launcher
You'll notice that none of these features have anything to do with the actual function of the firearm. So, if you make a rifle without them, you're legal, without changing the internal workings at all.
According to shop owner, Rich, the restocked rifles received verbal approval from the state attorney general's office as compliant with the law. In the video below, he explains how a converted Smith and Wesson rifle is just fine by the rules, and just how stupidly the law is written.
New York's law has actually created a new market for companies like SB Products, that make after-market products for modifying the cosmetics of "assault weapons."
Then again, a company could just redesign a weapon it manufactures to be compliant. That's what JR Carbine Products, an outfit based in Canandaigua, New York, did with its pistol caliber carbines.
Restrictions on assault weapons, like New York's SAFE Act, don't make anybody the tiniest bit safer. But innovation and a healthy contempt for politicians' intentions does help keep us safe from intrusive government.