New York University Public Law and Legal Theory Working Papers

Document Type



Forthcoming 79 Albany Law Review (2016)


In the wake of the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, Governor Andrew Cuomo promised to give New York State the toughest gun controls in the nation. Toward that end, the January 2013 SAFE ACT provided a comprehensive set of gun control initiatives. Universal firearm and ammunition background checking is one of, if not the most, prominent of these initiatives. Every firearms and ammunition seller must initiate a background check for their purchasers; the aim is to keep dangerous and irresponsible people disarmed. This Article explains how universal background checking works in NYS, the implementation and enforcement challenges it faces, and its likely effectiveness in reducing firearms homicide, crime and suicide.

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