We Missed an Opportunity; Instead, New York Passed a Gun Law

By Assemblyman Will Barclay
On Feb. 28 there was a gun rally in Albany. There was an estimated 10,000  people who attended from across the state.

The rally represented not only those advocating for Second Amendment rights but those fighting for democracy. There were thousands of people there who not only opposed the law but were furious with the way in which it was pass. It was forced upon us. The public had no time to weigh in.

Lawmakers had limited time to review the 39-paged bill before the majority made this law.

As a result, people organized through email and Facebook campaigns and met in unified opposition to the so called NY SAFE Act. Fifty counties and multiple municipalities have proposed or passed resolutions across the state seeking its repeal.

The Sheriff’s Association has come out in opposition.

Cuomo’s gun control law will cost taxpayer dollars to the tune of $37 million. We will spend $3.2 million from the general fund to pay for 25 positions to implement the law.  It is estimated we will spend $32.7 million for the design of a pistol permit database. And there are additional costs that are incalculable at this time, particularly administrative costs to localities.

The rally was a signal to the Governor and the Democratic-majority that we hold our Constitutional rights dear. Making law-abiding gun owners criminals by changing the definition of an assault weapon and what is permissible was a bad idea.

So are proposed laws that would require gun owners to take out $1 million in liability insurance.

Our nation was shaken and horrified at what happened in Newtown. Parents imagined that it could happen in their child’s schools. We grieved after the tragedy at the senseless loss of life, looking for ways to understand its horror.

After such an evil act, we look for justice and we look to try and prevent another tragedy of this kind.

Schools responded by increasing safety or reinstating previous safety protocols. It’s natural to look at the weapons used; however, we missed the opportunity to get a true dialogue started that would result in changes that might help our state.

Instead, we slapped law-abiding citizens who had nothing to do with mass shootings and made them feel like criminals for owning a certain types of firearms.

The problem with the law is it doesn’t do what it is purported to do – that is, make us safer.

Rather, it was for appearances – to make it seem as though we are safer.

Did we ban weapons? Yes. Did we make our communities safer? No. Our state already had some of the toughest gun control laws in the country. We were already one of seven states that banned assault weapons and large capacity magazines.

Most of the gun crimes are committed with illegal firearms. Almost 90% of firearms used in New York City crimes come from out of state and most guns are illegal to begin with.

Those motivated to commit murder will find a way to circumvent the laws anyway.

Statistics show that gun ownership does not correlate with increased violence.

Places like Washington, D.C., Oakland and Chicago, noted for their gun violence, also have the strictest laws against guns in the nation. These crimes are committed with illegal guns.

It is a falsity to say we made our streets safer. Take for example the AR-15. Thanks to Cuomo’s gun law, it is now illegal in its current configuration. It has features now banned by the newly-defined assault weapon, such as a pistol grip. However, if you reconfigure the weapon, and simply remove its pistol grip, the rifle will be legal. This is a cosmetic feature.

I opposed this law in the Assembly. It does not fix our problems. It ignored the discussion we should have had about those with mental illness who exhibit signs of homicide, and presupposes that it will prevent these tragedies in the future.

We could have taken $37 million and instead, invested it in improving mental health services and school safety. Or targeted inner-city youth to help reduce gun violence and gangs. If we truly wanted to improve public safety, law-abiding, responsible gun owners were not the place to start.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office.

My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.

You may also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.


  1. I’m so sick of this state constantly sticking it to the people!! I wish New York City was a separate entity responsible for their own taxes and issues!! Our govenor is clueless as to the lives he’s affe cted north of Albany! He only makes appearances when it’s beneficial to his own agenda. Separate us from that city!!!! Quit taxing us for the benefit of NYC!!!! Tell Andrew Cuomo to stay down there,and we’ll elect our own govenor to represent Central NY. He’s never lived up here,and he certainly isn’t qualified to know whats best for us.

  2. Let’s face it. Cuomo is trying to trying to set himself up in a position to inherit Obama’s kingdom. That’s all he wants. And the Dems agree with any other Dem, so it’s an easy take.

    The idiot in Yonkers who wants gun owners to be insured is in an area that you can’t have guns in anyway – no skin off his back, nor his constituents. Cant loose that argument!

    Let’s face it. People who live in the city trust government. They have to. It’s their life wrapped up in that infrastructure. As we saw in Sandy and Katrina, when you depend upon the city and they can’t handle it, they are screwed.
    The rest of us tolerate the government. It’s likely we live in areas that make us more independent. If the government died tomorrow, we can still figure out a way to get food, water, protect ourselves, etc. If we need electricity, we will figure out a way to make it. Or live without it. Same with gasoline. Same with fire power.
    The hard part for those who do not live in the city, is that they have become fewer. Their kids were educated by the liberal views instilled in their teachers, and the kids don’t see it. They move to the cities to find a job (can’t blame them I suppose).

    So now, the more liberal city areas dictate what the rest of the countryside will do. This can be seen in the Fed level, and the state level. Those in the country (typically conservative, Repubs) are fighting a loosing battle, in that they may never again gain much of any control in DC.
    Couple that with legalizing the illegal immigrants, who will now always vote Dem as their hero; and what are the chances of any view except Dem’s being voted in?

    The Repubs need to get real. But were they ever? They love big business, but forgot about the people. We don’t want a cult following prez hopeful, but someone real. We don’t want some Beatles looking kid for VP, but someone with wisdom.

    The Repubs lost because they had nothing to bring to the table, and too many other groups watered the conservative vote. We want to see public servant as it was meant to be, not a retirement community, or career aspiration, but a temporary job. No retirement… it is only temporary. Same health care as the rest of America gets. Quit porking the barrel!
    It will be a long road until the Repubs get real – and just maybe they have a chance. Not that anyone will ever be able to pay back the debt we owe now.

  3. We don’t need to split up-state. We need to revisit the apportionment of the Senate that occurred as a result of Baker vs Carr. Prior to the 1970s each county had a senator—(except Herkimer and Hamilton that shared one due to population). We had a lower house—the peoples house—and an upper house that balanced the needs of the state as a whole.

    Now that both houses of the legislature are apportioned by population—we have the “Tyranny of the Majority”. There is certainly enough history in regard to the demise of “Upstate” to revisit apportionment by county so we have a true upper house—that represents the interests of all of NY. The “old way” would also make senate districts easier to represent and there would be 12 less senators.

  4. Bad Legislation is worse than no legislation because not only does it not solve the problem but creates problems for those not the issue. Furthermore it hurts those you are trying to protect.

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