I was disappointed when I read today's Yahoo! news article about New York's new, stricter gun control laws. (Photo: Mike Groll, AP) My following commentary assumes the media has all the facts correct...
1) "New York lawmakers agreed to pass the toughest gun control law in the nation and the first since the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, calling for a stricter assault weapons ban and provisions to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill who make threats."
Ok, for starters, it's the ONLY new gun control law in New York since the Newtown shooting, so of course it's the toughest since the Newtown shooting. Duh! But here's the problem, many gun laws are already in place, and these new ones are simply an emotional side-show and are unwarranted. Here's why...
2) "At what point do you say, 'No more innocent loss of life'?"
Hey, innocent people have been dying since the dawn of time; and they always will. It's part and parcel to the fallen nature of humanity. I wonder if cavemen put strict stick and rock possession laws on their books when there were mass stonings and clubbings? No, they probably served swift justice on the violators.
By the way, do legislators recall the details of the 9/11 attacks? What brought down those twin towers in New York...airplanes. Not guns -- not clubs or rocks -- but airplanes. And what brought down those big airplanes? Not guns. Not potato cannons. But box cutters. When used skillfully, darn near anything is a viable weapon.
3) "The measure also calls for restrictions on ammunition and the sale of guns."
In Michigan -- as well as every other State in the Union -- we already have restrictions in place. Felons cannot legally purchase firearms, let alone even possess them. But did you notice that key word? Legally! Criminals who want guns WILL get their hands on them, one way or another. No law -- no matter how strict -- will prevent that. Your local gang-banger doesn't simply walk into Meijer, approach the sporting goods counter and say, "Um, sir. I'd like to buy one box of .40 calibre ammunition. Oh yeah, Please." No. They steal it...somehow, from someone, from somewhere. They even buy it from shady people who on the streets who purchase legally and then sell for profit. Novel idea, I know. That's why that "market" has existed for centuries -- it's called "the Black Market." Thugs and killers get guns and ammo, too!
4) "This is not about taking any one's rights away," said Sen. Jeffrey Klein, a Bronx Democrat. "It's about a safe society ... today we are setting the mark for the rest of the county to do what's right."
Well, actually it is. Notice the WAY Klein said what he said. Read it carefully. On the surface, it looks like legislators are not trying to take rights away, and just want to lead the way in doing the right thing. I'll suggest a re-wording of Klein's sentence: "We're severely limiting citizens' rights, and we know that. But it's not entirely about that. We want to lead the way, as we hope the rest of the country causes legalized gun ownership to disappear." To lawmakers, a safe society means "no more guns". But guess what, see #3. Stupid laws like these mean the people you actually WANT to have guns, won't; and the people you DON'T want to have guns, will.
5) "Under current state law, assault weapons are defined by having two "military rifle" features, such as folding stock, muzzle flash suppressor or bayonet mount. The proposal would reduce that to one feature, including the popular pistol grip. The language specifically targeted the military-style rifle used in the Newtown shootings."
Why don't they just say it already, "We are outlawing AR-15's and M-4's"? Because that's not ultimately their final intention. Instead, their wording now covers darn near every gun in production. Pistols (due to having "pistol grips") and shotguns with pistol grips would be included in this provision. Not only that, but just about any weapon on the market can be fitted with muzzle suppressors (there's no such thing as a "silencer"). They want to suggest it only applies to AR-15's and M-4's, but they hope to apply it to ALL guns eventually. I wonder what Wild Bill Hickock would have said about banning his 6-shot revolver due to having "pistol grips".
By the way, isn't EVERY weapon assaultive in nature? Whether used solely for hunting, personal defense, or defense of another (police and military), guns hurt people. They kill people. They assault people. I've carried a gun on and off duty for 15 years, and not once has it killed or assaulted anyone. Guns are only assaultive when the situation calls for an assault, or when the people possessing them are assaultive.
6) "Ammunition magazines would be restricted to seven bullets, from the current 10..."
...Yeah, because 7 bullets are so much LESS deadly than 10. I can tell you, as a trained firearms user, I can reload a 7-round magazine just as easily as I can reload a 10-round magazine. If I have 7-round magazines on my person, all it takes is pressing a little button on the gun, releasing the empty mag, and then inserting a new one. It doesn't take but a second. So, what does 10 have to do with it? Remember a bunch of years ago when they restricted 15-shot magazines law enforcement and military personnel only? What did that ultimately help? You'll notice we're still on square one, because people are still killing people with fewer than 7 bullets.
7) "Stores that sell ammunition will have to register with the state, run background checks on buyers of bullets and keep an electronic database of bullet sales."
Tell me, what is really being accomplished by collecting a database of how many boxes of ammunition -- or even what types -- a certain person purchases? Would that have stopped a Newtown shooting? Nope. It simply would have told legislators AFTER-THE-FACT how much ammo the shooter's MOTHER owned. And why maintain a PURCHASED-ammo database unless they also want to gather POSSESSED-ammo database? Unless there is a legal "cap" on how the amount and types of ammo one can possess, this law is pointless. Or is it...?
8) "In another provision, a therapist who believes a mental health patient made a credible threat to use a gun illegally would be required to report it to a mental health director who would have to notify the state. A patient's gun could be taken from him or her."
Again, how would this have prevented Columbine or Aurora or Newtown? It wouldn't have! Did the adult shooter in Aurora profess to his therapist or on Facebook that he was going to shoot up the theatre? In Newtown, the mother, who wound up dead, owned the weapons and ammo -- not the shooter. Again, a silly -- stupid -- provision.
Additionally, any person who tells his therapist he wants to perform a mass killing won't likely be held accountable to anyone. He may be submitted for a psych evaluation, but he has committed no crime to that point. Lawyers abound who would defend -- for profit of course -- the
9) "The legislation also increases sentences for gun crimes including the shooting of a first responder that Cuomo called the "Webster provision." Last month in the western New York town of Webster, two firefighters were killed after responding to a fire set by the shooter, who eventually killed himself."
Ok, this one bugs the daylights out of me! Jails and prisons around the country are crowded, if not overcrowded. Laws governing weapons offenses are already being ignored or pled away for other lesser offenses. How do legislators think they're going to get tougher on sentencing when so many criminals, especially in big cities, are given nearly-free passes on the weapons charges they already face? Are legislators going to fund more jails and prisons with their own money? Are they planning to fund more local prosecutors? I doubt it.
Also, as it relates to the so-called "Webster provision", aren't there already sentencing guidelines for murder? Wait, it's coming to me...oh yeah, it's called "life imprisonment without the possibility of parole", or even simply, "the death penalty" (thank you, Texas). Not only that, but we already have
This is your naive legislative branch, ladies and gentlemen. I'm not a dooms-day'er -- never have been, never will be. But it's time we vote in some real change that matters. Legislators have to justify their existence by creating new laws, but that's no solution. It's just a bigger problem. In creating new laws, legislators not only forget the old ones, but also leave the Constitution behind.