Friday, January 18, 2013

New York's anti-gun culture

Governor Andrew Cuomo is no doubt a student of the Rahm Emanuel School of Better Government where the motto is “you never want a serious crisis to go to waste”. His gusto for over-preparedness and over-reaction -- which really isn’t a very endearing leadership trait – seen throughout his term (perhaps as a means to market himself as presidential material) was realized yet again as he and his team, in an effort to beat Washington to the punch, forced legislation through the Albany Machine that, in response to the Newtown shootings, allegedly makes New York a much safer place by preventing criminals from possessing firearms and ammunition.

The poorly-devised law (the New York SAFE Act) will have no effect on criminals. Its greatest impact – maybe it’s only impact – will be on law-abiding souls. Coming into 2013, New York already had the toughest gun laws in the nation. But, Cuomo’s overzealousness made them even worse. Now, pistol permit holders have to recertify every 5 years; background checks are needed to by ammunition; individuals are flagged for buying “large amounts” of ammo; and hundreds of thousands of previously fully-legal weapons need to be registered with the state.

But, for all the bad of Cuomo’s legislation, realize that demonization of gun owners and mutation of the Second Amendment is the culture within our state. Cuomo is only guilty of making matters worse (albeit far worse).

Even so-called conservatives conspire against gun owners in the Empire State. Under Governor George Pataki’s watch the legislature succeeded in making certain methods of possession illegal. Pistol permit fees grew and the handgun ownership age was pushed to 21. He introduced intrusive background checks that more or less defined gun shows as criminal enterprises. He signed legislation that strengthened the penalization for possessing loaded firearms. Pataki even proposed legislation that would have taken away the lifetime pistol license and required renewal every five years…something that became a “win” for Cuomo.

Furthermore, look back to 2000 when Pataki’s successor Eliot Spitzer -- then acting in his role of attorney-general -- spearheaded efforts that made New York State the first state to sue gun manufacturers, importers and wholesalers under the illogical and twisted assumption those companies contributed to danger and crime. The only thing that saved these law-abiding vendors – and their law-abiding customers - from ruin was a federal law devised later that shielded manufacturers from such lawsuits.

With such a culture in play - and completely empowered by the voters and the leaders they put in place - one could legitimately fear that it may become impossible for New Yorkers to keep most of their firearms. It’s difficult now. What sort of laws will be devised 5, 10, 15 years from now? What will the next “assault weapon” be?

New York’s manner of gun control is an affront to the American standard of liberty. Under the framing of the Constitution powers were allotted to each of the states to on their own create and enforce legislation that would affect governance within their borders. The caveat to this designation was that the states could not infringe upon any of the natural rights and rules of government called-out in the Constitution. The ability to protect ourselves was recognized as one of those rights, the Founding fathers knowing full well that it would be in the sights of an ever-growing, always-controlling government. Therefore, the gun laws spawned by the Cuomo Administration, like those in administrations before them, are unconstitutional.

This ongoing desecration of the US Constitution and natural rights is a sad commentary on where New York State has been and where it is going. But, it’s an even sadder commentary on where our great nation may one day be….New York might just be the template for future federal gun laws, especially if Cuomo’s never-ending crisis management endeavors net him control of the White House. Scary.

Gasport resident Bob Confer also writes for the New American magazine at Follow him on Twitter @bobconfer

This column originally appeared in the 21 January 2013 Greater Niagara Newspapers

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