Paul Martin, owner operator of Pro-Gun Services in Victor, N.Y., works in his shop in the back of his store on Friday, Feb. 22, 2013. / Shawn Dowd, The Rochester, N.Y. Democrat and Chronicle
Note: A previous version of this story may have been unclear about which types of weapons were being discussed, and should have been made clear that seven-round magazines do exist for certain types of weapons. Rochester-area firearms experts contacted for the story do say that seven-round magazines are rare and hard to come by for the most popular weapons used by sports enthusiasts, thus leaving anyone who wants to buy these guns in a bind come April 16.
ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Starting April 15, New York will have the smallest gun magazine limit in the country.
Gun manufacturers have not had much reason to make a magazine with fewer than 10 rounds, except for limited uses, because no state required it until now. And, as far as local gun dealers and the Democrat and Chronicle have been able to determine, there are no manufacturers planning to make special seven-round magazines to serve the New York market.
This means that in less than two months gun dealers such as Paul Martin, owner of Pro-Gun Services in Victor, who deal mostly in full-size guns for sports enthusiasts, can only sell something that doesn't exist yet. Seven-round and smaller magazines do exist for a number of older and specialty models, including 1911 pistols. But firearms experts said seven-round magazines for the most popular models for sports enthusiasts are rare and hard to find.
"There was never a need for a (seven-round magazine)," Martin said. "Not many manufacturers are going to bother to make something just for the state of New York."
The New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, passed in January, says gun dealers cannot sell magazines with more than seven rounds beginning April 15. However, three gun dealers in the Rochester area say manufacturers don't make a seven-round magazine for most guns, and several manufacturers don't disagree. This leaves store owners wondering what they are going to sell.
"Can you realistically expect a company that's huge to gear up and say, 'Let's make something for those poor suckers in New York because they've got a bad law?'" asked Fred Calcagno, owner of American Sportsman in East Rochester.
Before, New Yorkers could use 10-round magazines, and higher-capacity magazines made before 1994. The new law immediately banned the higher-capacity magazines. Residents can continue to use 10-round magazines, but can only load seven bullets.
"Sorry, NY, Andy says no," reads a handwritten sticker referring to Gov. Andrew Cuomo that adorns a pre-1994 15-round magazine in a showcase at Pro-Gun Services.
The Democrat and Chronicle reached out to a dozen gun and accessory manufacturers to find out whether they would produce smaller magazines, including Remington, Smith and Wesson, Pro Mag Industries and Brownells. Most did not respond. A few provided written statements that did not indicate any plans for New York one way or another. Glock had no comment. Only one gave a clear-cut answer.
"We will not be marketing anything specific to New York," said an email from Karl Hoffman, an account executive for Metalform, a manufacturer that makes magazines for a variety of guns. The company does make magazines for 1911-style pistols in a seven-round capacity.
However, Cuomo and supporters of the bill in the Legislature think manufacturers will cater to the market in New York. "They can make different sized clips," Cuomo said at a recent media availability.
Recent heat over the gun bill from manufacturers and local governments hasn't fazed him.
"When people understand what the law is really about, and it's not about taking their gun or a government intrusion on the Second Amendment, they'll feel better about it," Cuomo said. "There's no novelty to the controversy about gun control."
Lawmakers arrived at the number seven through a compromise in the Democratic caucus, Democratic Majority Leader Joe Morelle said last month.
"Some wanted it higher, some wanted it lower, so seven became the place where we could get people to compromise and agree to ... it was the subject of much discussion," Morelle said. "In time, if other states follow New York's lead, manufacturers will begin to produce magazines that have seven-round clips."
But, in the gun stores, there's panic and confusion. Owners say people don't know what they'll be able to buy in the future, so they're buying everything they can now. All stores have a shortage of ammunition, American Sportsman is out of several calibers, and Pro-Gun Services is limiting purchases of certain types.
This shortage is nationwide. When you go to shop for magazines from Checkmate Industries, which makes magazines for many types of guns, users get this message: "We are currently experiencing an unusually high volume of orders, as a result we are temporarily unable to accept any additional online orders."
At Jackson Guns and Ammo in Henrietta, owner Kordell Jackson hasn't stopped selling anything. Not that he has much left -- on Friday about six rifles were left on a rack that held dozens a month ago. Just a handful of pistols were left in a case that was full the day the law passed. When he gets inventory in, he sells it immediately.
All of the information on the bill he's gotten has come from news reports. No one has reached out to him to provide clarity, and he's not quite sure what's legal and what isn't. Until someone from the New York State Police or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives contacts him, Jackson said, he's going to operate as usual.
Even though the Governor's Office has stated the law's intention, Jackson said the actual language doesn't specify whether he must sell seven-round magazines, or sell 10-round magazines with the consumer intention of only loading seven rounds in, so he's not going to change his inventory until he gets clarity.
"Nothing has come down to us in writing as to what we can or cannot sell right now ..." he said of the magazines, AR-15 rifles and bolt-action rifles. "Until we're made aware of what you can and cannot have, we are still going to sell them."
His confusion is not for a lack of trying. Jackson said he's read the act three times.
"I've written letters to Cuomo's office, I've written letters to the State Police, and nobody's given me a clear answer," Jackson said.
Calcagno said the confusion means they get less from distributors. "They say, 'New York has a law, we're not quite sure of it, so we're not shipping any guns to New York state any longer.'"
Gun dealers think they might be allowed to modify 10-round magazines, but that's tricky. It involves welding or epoxy, and means the internal parts cannot be replaced. That makes the magazine more expensive, Martin said.
"How do you modify something in a permanent fixture and still maintain the dismountability of the magazine?" Martin asked.
While nothing has been put on paper, some lawmakers say amendments are needed to the gun law, mostly to fix technical details.
Democratic State Sen. Ted O'Brien said he's open to changes, and said he'd look at the issue of magazine sizes.
"There may be some additional refinement to the legislation. It's something I would consider supporting," O'Brien said. "Ultimately, if that doesn't happen, people will sell what people will buy, and I think the marketplace will play a role in working that out over time if there is not an amendment."
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Read the original story: N.Y. gun law mandates magazines that don't exist