Public Input Prevented on Gun Control Debate to Advance Agenda and Political Career
Governor Andrew Cuomo, in stunningly brazen fashion, took a hatchet to gun rights in New York with lightning speed. By cutting secret deals behind closed doors, eliminating public input and circumventing normal legislative processes, the Governor and state Senate passed sweeping anti-gun measures just before the stroke of midnight yesterday. Within 24 hours, Cuomo had his new gun control laws. Cuomo utilized a rarely-used executive trick, a "message of necessity" to bypass normal legislative procedures that are strictly followed on hundreds of bills each legislative session. Late last night as the clock approached midnight, the public was introduced to S. 2230,a hastily drafted bill that includes bans on commonly owned semi-automatic firearms and magazines, registration, and restrictions on ammunition purchases. This bill was released to legislators a scant twenty minutes prior to the Senate vote and quickly passed without proper vetting, committee consideration and debate, as previously reported on here.
Today, S. 2230 faced the state Assembly where it passed by a 104 to 43 vote and was signed into law by the Governor within an hour of its passage, taking immediate effect. During Assembly debate, it became obvious that the haste with which the bill was drafted and passed resulted in innumerable errors and flaws, damaging gun owners even worse than bill authors probably intended. The NRA-ILA lobbyist spent several days in Albany meeting with lawmakers, but this deal was quickly and quietly being forged behind closed doors. Lawmakers from both political parties were even critical of the process in which Cuomo guaranteed only one outcome would prevail.
Prior to this outrageous and undemocratic action, New York already had some of the strictest gun control laws in the country, and they have proven to be failures. When each of New York’s gun laws was enacted, politicians promised it would fix the crime problem. Years later, it is clear that they did not, yet anti-gun lawmakers want more of the same laws. Gun control has not worked because criminals, by definition, do not obey the law. Like previous gun control attempts, S.2230 focuses only on law-abiding gun owners and will do nothing to address public safety or crime.
S.2230 expands the state's existing pseudo (semi-auto) "assault weapons" ban by outlawing pre-ban firearms, unless they are registered. This new state law also expands what is now considered an “assault weapon” and goes beyond the expired federal law. This statute also lowers New York's magazine capacity limit from ten rounds to seven. You can possess magazines capable of holding more than ten for one year, but you cannot sell or transfer them to anyone living in New York. State residents have one year from enactment to transfer or surrender them. Incredibly, S.2230 will also require background checks on ammunition purchases and prohibit online sales of both firearms and ammunition. It also includes universal background checks on all firearms transfers with certain exemptions for immediate family. S.2230 also requires mental health practitioners to report if someone is a threat to himself or others (without requiring an adjudication) and such person must surrender their gun. These failed gun control ideas will not address crime, but today Cuomo and his accomplices did irreparable damage to the constitutional rights of New Yorkers.
In his recent state of the state address, Cuomo made it clear that passing gun control would be the first major issue of the 2013 legislative session. He seized the opportunity to exploit tragedy and put his own personal politics ahead of sound public policy. Your governing officials resorted to deception, secrecy and procedural gamesmanship because they were too afraid to let gun owners make their voices heard. In the short time this issue was before the state Legislature, hundreds of phone calls and e-mails flooded the Capitol. The politicians might be able to sidestep gun owners now, but the next election will be a different story.
This legislation is still less than 24 hours old, and it contains many complex details and nuances that were secretly withheld from public view. NRA-ILA’s legal staff will continue to examine this new law and determine if future litigation may be appropriate. As we challenge these new laws, we will continue to report to our members, so please stay tuned.