Public Input Prevented as Cuomo Seizes Gun Rights in Overnight Session, with Secret Deals, Procedural Shortcuts and Midnight Votes
Anti-gun New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D), in stunningly brazen fashion, took a hatchet to gun rights in New York this week. 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 on Monday. Within 24 hours, Cuomo had his new gun control laws. Cuomo employed 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 Monday, 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, gun registration, and restrictions on ammunition purchases. This bill was released to legislators a scant 20 minutes prior to the Senate vote and quickly passed without proper vetting or debate.
S. 2230 faced the state Assembly on Tuesday, where it passed by a 104 to 43 vote and was signed into law by the Governor within an hour of its passage. 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 critical of Cuomo's abuse of the legislative process.
S.2230 expands the state's existing "assault weapons" ban by outlawing lawfully-possessed 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 10 rounds to seven. 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 ammunition. It also includes universal background checks on all firearm transfers with certain, very limited exemptions for immediate family. S.2230 also requires medical practitioners to report if someone is a threat to himself or others (without requiring an adjudication), requiring such persons to surrender his or her guns.
Cuomo and his accomplices did irreparable damage to the constitutional rights of New Yorkers, yet did nothing to address crime.
Offensive as Cuomo's actions are, they are not surprising. 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. New York's governing officials resorted to deception, secrecy and procedural gamesmanship because they were 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 opening salvo forcefully underscores that the threats to our rights aren't just at the federal level. Serious threats to our Second Amendment rights are currently being proposed at the state and local levels. Please click here for NRA-ILA's latest information on proposed restrictions by state.
This legislation is still just days old, and highly complex, and we are still analyzing the legislation to determine what recourse we may have. One avenue is litigation, and we are working with the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association on a potential suit. NRA is committed to challenging this reprehensible law, and is working to proceed appropriately, using sound strategy that promises the best chance of success. And, of course, we will be working in the next election cycle to defeat those lawmakers who voted against the Second Amendment rights of New Yorkers--especially those who previously had pledged their support for our rights.
Please click here, and here, to find out how your lawmakers voted, and contact them accordingly. For those who stood up for gun owners' rights, be sure to thank them. For those who voted to restrict your freedom, please let them know you will be keeping their votes in mind in the next election.