Obama’s gun control bill may have gone down to stinging defeat in the Senate, but gun owners in New York weren’t so lucky. And you would think that New Yorkers, being virtually controlled by liberal Democrats, would welcome restrictions on their Second Amendment rights that were even too much for several Democratic U.S. Senators who opposed Obama’s bill.
But at least one faction of the Empire State’s citizenry – law enforcement – have been highly critical and outspoken about Governor Andrew Cuomo’s latest anti-gun effort.
The New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, known as the NY SAFE Act, passed by the New York legislature and signed into law by Mr. Cuomo in January, does all the things that Obama wanted to do, and more. It bans “high capacity” magazines, requires that ten round magazines may only be loaded with seven rounds outside of firing ranges and competitions, bans ownership of guns defined as “assault weapons,” and requires registration of arms and ammunition sales to the state government.
If that weren’t enough, the NY SAFE Act regulates gun storage and effectively makes criminals out of law-abiding gun owners who fail to report stolen weapons within 24 hours. It also forces people who have done nothing wrong to renew their pistol permits and assault weapons registrations every five years.
Cuomo boasts that it is the toughest gun law in the nation, but tries to downplay its effect on the rights of citizens by claiming that “for hunters, sportsmen, and law abiding gun owners, this new law preserves and protects your right to buy, sell, keep or use your guns.”
New York law enforcement officials have been almost unanimous in their criticism of the new law. “We as police officers are on the front lines of public safety,” wrote Thomas Mahar, president of the Albany Police Officers Union in a letter to Cuomo and state legislative leaders. “Respectfully, none of you are. We see, feel, work, and live with the effects of gun violence in the way you do not… you know that this shameful SAFE Act was about ideology and politics and not about making anyone safer.”
Mahar’s indignation was matched by much of the law enforcement community in New York State. So far, police and sheriffs associations in seventeen counties have publicly condemned the law, and 52 county boards and 162 town and village boards have passed resolutions condemning the Act and calling for its repeal.
The New York Sheriff’s Association, representing most of the elected Sheriffs in the state, also issued a public statement blasting the law, stating that “we believe that actual enforcement of these new regulations will significantly increase the hazards of an already dangerous job.”
A lawsuit has been filed in Federal Court in Buffalo by a host of state organizations and prominent citizens, asking that the law be overturned as a violation of the Second Amendment. As the case wends its way through the federal courts, it may become a watershed on the efforts of state legislatures to do for gun control what Congress refuses to do.
Like most gun control legislation, the New York SAFE Act is based on the illusion that regulating the property and behavior of law-abiding citizens will somehow impede people who are hell bent on committing murder.
The law-abiding gun owner will obey the seven round requirement, but you can guarantee the criminal’s gun will be loaded with the full ten rounds. Expecting people who are mentally ill to safely store their weapons is also a fantasy. In sum, Empire State lawmakers have passed a bill that punishes the innocent but will do little to deter those who wish to unleash the kind of violence we have seen at Newtown and Aurora.
Defenders of the law say it will benefit first responders and people in law enforcement, keeping them safe from gun violence. But unanimous police support for gun control is a myth, as many of those engaged in the daily battle against violent crime know these laws seldom disarm would-be murderers.
A vocal critic of laws attempting to control firearms sales and ownership has been the Sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, David A. Clarke, who has argued that gun ownership by law-abiding citizens is an important part of keeping the public safe from violent crime. “Violent crime went up nearly 10 percent in Milwaukee. Are you the next victim?” he asked in a radio advertisement. “You don’t have to be, but that’s your call.”
In some of those cases, owning and knowing how to use a legal firearm can be the difference between surviving and becoming another statistic. “It could be the great equalizer, but you always have to think survival,” Clarke explains.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, gun killings actually dropped 39 percent from 1993 to 2011. But a Pew Research Center poll found that only 12 percent of Americans knew this fact, while 56 percent believe lethal firearms violence actually increased over the past two decades.
Gun ownership, incidentally, was up during the same time period that killings went down. The United States has the highest rate of private firearms ownership.
The reason for the disconnect is the demagoguery of anti-gun politicians who exploit tragedies and make misleading arguments to arrogate new powers to themselves. A liberal media eagerly parrots their lines, making gun crime seem ubiquitous and putting the blame on the weapons rather than the murders and criminals in our midst.
Law enforcement professionals probably know more about the issue than anybody else, and are the most capable at shining a light on these ideologues who use gun control laws for political purposes. They are the ones who are the real source of public safety, not cleverly named pieces of legislation that chip away at our constitutional freedoms.