In the weeks after the tragic mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the New York state legislature pushed through a gun control bill titled the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act. This piece of legislation is arguably one of the most restrictive laws on the 2nd amendment in the country. Provisions include banning of high capacity magazines (10+), limiting amount of rounds in those magazines to 7, a complete assault weapons ban, and a registry of any assault weapons already owned within the state. Keep in mind, not all of the provisions are this extreme; for example, the names and addresses of gun owners cannot be disseminated as the Journal News did in December, 2012.
While some provisions of this law are good policy for combating crime, the blatant 2nd amendment rights violations are clear. The 2nd amendment of the United States Constitution clearly states that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed. The debate on guns was over in 1791. However, people who believe otherwise like New York State’s Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg think otherwise. In New York City, it is next to impossible to legally own a firearm. Permits must be issued to purchase long barrel guns and handguns, all guns must be registered with the city, and any form of “assault weapons” is banned.
Effectiveness of these laws is one thing to consider, however, the rights of the citizenry should be of the utmost importance. Thomas Jefferson once declared in Latin: “Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.” In essence, he would prefer dangerous liberty to peaceful slavery. While the crime rate in New York City is one of the lowest in the major cities across the nation, its policies (including stop and frisk, a blatant 4th amendment violation) make it the least free city in America. Would you rather live as a prisoner in your country yet be perfectly safe, or would you prefer to have the dangers of life still out there, but be prepared to meet them yourself?
The concept that everyone can agree on is that illegal weapons should be taken from the hands of criminals. However, this law that was rammed through the state legislature puts “welfare of the people” over security of their rights. History shows us that welfare of the people is the alibi of tyrants. In Nazi Germany, full gun registration was enacted in 1935. Ten years later, millions of Jews and other ethnic minorities were exterminated because they were unable to defend themselves.
When dealing with people who simply do not like guns, however, they tend to tune out the lessons of history. “That could never happen here!” Didn’t the Jews in Germany or the dissident in the Soviet Union probably think that too? When the right to defend oneself by firearms is revoked, the rest of their rights will be gone as well, because they cannot be defended either.
In recent months, support for the “gun grabbers” has plummeted. Mayors have been dropping out of Mike Bloomberg’s “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” group; 50 mayors had left the group as of July 22, 2013. Governor Cuomo’s approval rating has also been slowly on the decline since the SAFE act was rammed through the New York State legislature. Two days before the Sandy Hook shooting, Cuomo had a 74% approval rating. After dipping to as low as 52%, his approval rating now stands at 65% according to a Siena College poll, still much lower than 10 months ago.
The bottom line is that the SAFE act was forced through the legislature, the law was not fully debated and read through, and now New York State is starting to see the law backfire. From plummeting approval, to second amendment rallies across the state, some people simply are fed up with what has been done to them.