Share this

The Toughest Gun Control Law in the Nation: The Unfulfilled Promise of New York’s SAFE Act, James B. Jacobs and Zoe Fuhr

Reviewed by Alexandra Filindra



After the Sandy Hook shooting, New York State passed an ambitious new law that was hailed as a bold step in curbing gun violence and especially mass shootings. James B. Jacobs and Zoe Fuhr set out to provide a “reality check” on the nation’s gun control regime, using the SAFE (Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement) Act as a lens. The story they tell is a sad and scary one: the nation’s “toughest” gun law, like much of the regulatory apparatus at the federal and state levels, was undermined by conceptual and definitional issues, constitutional challenges, unfunded mandates, the absence of national uniformity, implementation failures, law enforcement’s recalcitrance, and extensive noncompliance by gun owners.

First, attempts to ban “assault weapons” may be appealing to the public, but, much like the case of pornography, “I know it when I see it” does not suffice as a definition. If the goal is to outlaw weapons that are unusually dangerous, then the features that make such weapons different from others need to be specified. But depending on one’s vantage point, the same attributes—for example, enhanced accuracy, high capacity—may be viewed as assurance of successful self-defense. Second, when millions of weapons are already in circulation and they do not come with easily iden

To continue reading, see options above.

About PSQ's Editor


Full Access

Join the Academy of Political Science and automatically receive Political Science Quarterly.


Book Talk | Phantoms of a Beleaguered Republic: The Deep State and the Unitary Executive
May 24, 2022


Editor’s spotlight

Women's History Month

Woodrow Wilson, Alice Paul, and the Woman Suffrage Movement
Sally Hunter Graham

The Year of the Woman? Candidates, Voters, and the 1992 Elections
Ester R. Fuchs and Michael X. Delli Carpini


Search the Archives

Publishing since 1886, PSQ is the most widely read and accessible scholarly journal with distinguished contributors such as: Lisa Anderson, Robert A. Dahl, Samuel P. Huntington, Robert Jervis, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Theda Skocpol, Woodrow Wilson

view additional issues

Most read

Articles | Book reviews

Understanding the Bush Doctrine
Robert Jervis

The Study of Administration
Woodrow Wilson

Notes on Roosevelt's "Quarantine" Speech
Dorothy Borg

view all

New APS Book

Perspectives on Presidential Elections, 1992–2020   PERSPECTIVES ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS, 1992–2020

About US

Academy of Political Science

The Academy of Political Science, promotes objective, scholarly analyses of political, social, and economic issues. Through its conferences and publications APS provides analysis and insight into both domestic and foreign policy issues.

Political Science Quarterly

With neither an ideological nor a partisan bias, PSQ looks at facts and analyzes data objectively to help readers understand what is really going on in national and world affairs.

Stay Connected

newsstand locator
About APS