At Guns.com we occasionally get accused of preaching to the choir. Do we? Sometimes, I suppose. But who doesn’t in today’s media?
So, with that in mind, I want to write an article that is carefully designed for the non-gun owning public. That is to say, people who look at the gun control debate with objectivity, curious to learn the real facts, void of spin and a political bent.
This is for the people who just want the truth (Not to say that gun owners don’t just want the truth, but sometimes we add color/opinion that may not appeal to non-gun nuts).
Dear Non-Gun Rights Advocate/Non-Gun Control Supporter,
For example, it sought to broaden the definition of what an ‘assault’ weapon is and required registration of all the newly defined ‘assault’ weapons. It placed a ban on magazines that hold more than seven rounds (although, that was later amended to magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, though gun owners are not allowed to load more than seven rounds in their 10 round magazines; confusing, I know, but hopefully it will make sense as you continue to read this article) and it required mental health professionals to report to the government any patient they feel is at risk of harming himself/herself or others.
At first glance, that may not look to be all that problematic, but let’s take a look at what people are saying about the NY SAFE Act.
At SHOT Show 2013 I asked author Paul Barrett about the NY SAFE Act and it’s arbitrary magazine ban. Barrett, a New Yorker and non-gun owner, covers the gun control debate for Bloomberg Businessweek (Yes, as in NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s media organization. Bloomberg is arguably the kingpin of the modern gun control movement).
Here was part of our exchange. You can read the full interview here:
Q: The New York package banned all magazines holding more than seven rounds, what was the logic behind this?
A: I’m not sure where they got the number. Even as a non-combatant in this whole debate, I’m perplexed by the number. It seems almost strangely provocative because there are no seven round magazines. It just seems odd. It also speaks to, at the minimum, a weird naiveté [NY lawmakers have about firearms].
I don’t know how these rules are going to work in New York and I am a little concerned about that. I have a feeling that we may discover, in the not too distant future, that there are unintended consequences to what’s been passed that we just can’t see right now.
Boy, was Barrett spot on with his prediction.
NY SAFE Act forgets to exempt police officers
One of the glaring oversights of the NY SAFE Act was that it never excluded law enforcement from the magazine ban. Consequently, New York’s finest were in jeopardy of being in violation of the law. That is, under the letter of the law, it would have been illegal for police and other law enforcement agencies to possess magazines holding more than seven rounds of ammunition.
This sent law enforcement officials scrambling to rectify the mistake in the wake of the bill’s passage.
“The PBA is actively working to enact changes to this law that will provide the appropriate exemptions from the law for active and retired law enforcement officers,” said the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association President in a statement, after the story broke.
As noted above, the SAFE Act requires mental health professionals to turn over to the government the names of patients that may be at risk of hurting themselves or others, so that bureaucrats can then decide whether that individual’s Second Amendment rights should be terminated and his/her guns confiscated.
The VA argued that the reporting mandate undermined psychiatrist-patient confidentiality and would discourage many veterans from seeking treatment. After all, many veterans are already skeptical of therapy. The mandate, experts argued, only exacerbated the fears that many veterans have about their privacy rights and freedoms being violated by mental health professions.
“Federal laws safeguarding the confidentiality of veterans’ treatment records do not authorize VA mental-health professionals to comply with this New York State law,” VA Sokesman Mark Ballesteros said in a statement.
“Under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, federal laws take precedence over conflicting state and local laws.”
NY Lawmaker: “It was a mistake”
Given all the issues that NY SAFE Act created, it caused several of its supporters to second guess their decision to vote for it.
“The so-called SAFE act was a mistake,” Boyle said in a statement, earlier this month. “Its passage lacked transparency and public input and its wording was ill-conceived and of questionable legality.”
“Lawmakers like myself might have caught these mistakes if we were given more than two hours to read the bill,” he continued, referencing the fact that the Governor waved the mandatory three-day legislative review period to ram through the bill in the dead of night (after 11 p.m. on Jan. 14, 2013).
“A good leader admits a mistake and works to rectify it. That is what I am doing.”
Gov. Cuomo: “No one needs 10 bullets to kill a deer…”
Initially, the NY SAFE Act banned magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. As Cuomo yelled in his fiery speech when pitching the bill, “No one needs 10 bullets to kill a deer!”
To replace 10-round magazines, New Yorkers would only be allowed to possess magazines that hold seven rounds.
Well, there’s just one problem with that, as Cuomo recently admitted, at the 2013-2014 budget agreement announcement.
“There is no such thing as a seven-bullet magazine,” said the Governor. “That doesn’t exist. So [gun owners] really have no practical option.”
Now, Cuomo is seeking to adjust the language of the NY SAFE Act so that 10-round magazines will be legal to possess. However, law-abiding gun owners will not be allowed to load more than seven rounds in their 10 round magazines.
NY SAFE Act: Question regarding magazine limits
In Feb. 2012, New York launched a “toll-free tip line to encourage citizens to report illegal firearm possession” (1-85-GUNSNYS). A $500 reward is given to those tips that lead to an arrest.
While this crime-fighting initiative was started a year before the SAFE Act was conceived, many people believe that it has particular relevance now that new gun control laws have been enacted.
This initiative seeks to turn neighbor against neighbor and uses their own tax dollars to pay for the $500 reward. Confiscating these once-legal firearms from law-abiding citizens and pitting neighbors against one another does nothing to address the root cause of violence with guns in our society: illegal handguns used by real criminals.
Assemblyman Bill Reilich added:
I am concerned that [the SAFE Act] is going to turn law-abiding citizens into criminals and this bounty program is only going to further exacerbate the problem.
The blame game
Clearly, the NY SAFE Act has issues. But whose fault is it? According to one Cuomo administration source, not the governor.
“The governor thought the limit on the size of [gun] magazines would only apply to assault-style rifles, not to handguns,” the source told the NY Post.
“That’s why there’s the big problem now with handguns, among other things in the statute,” the source continued.
So, again, whose fault is it?
“Much of what’s in the law was drafted by people connected to Mayor Bloomberg and the Brady Center, not by the Governor’s staff,” the source said. “That’s why there are so many problems with it.”
There’s not a whole lot to say. The information above speaks for itself. I’d only add that I’d encourage you, as a non-gun owner, to do your own research on Cuomo’s NY SAFE Act.