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.
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