Gun Owners Refuse to Register Under New York Law
After Democrats in New York rammed a sweeping assault on the right to keep and bear arms through the legislature that failed to exempt police officers from the draconian restrictions, gun owners and even some lawmakers are planning what has been dubbed potentially the largest act of civil disobedience in state history. According to news reports, gun rights activists are urging everyone to defy far-left Governor Andrew Cuomo’s new registration mandate while daring authorities to “come and take it.”
Analysts say the legislation, passed in a frenzy last week in the wake of the Newtown shooting, represents the most brazen infringement on the right to keep and bear arms anywhere in the nation. Among other points, the so-called SAFE Act seeks to limit magazines to just seven bullets, require virtually all of the estimated one million semi-automatic rifles in the state to be registered with authorities, mandate reporting of patients who express indications that they may have thoughts about hurting themselves or others by doctors, and more.
Aside from being unconstitutional, experts on gun violence also point out that the draconian schemes are a bad idea: Studies have repeatedly shown that more guns lead to less crime, and the phenomenon is obvious across America — just compare Chicago or D.C. to Alaska or Wyoming. The mandated reporting requirements for doctors, meanwhile, have come under fire from across the political spectrum. Whether it will even be possible to enforce the bill, however, remains to be seen.
Preparations are already being made for mass resistance. “I’ve heard from hundreds of people that they’re prepared to defy the law, and that number will be magnified by the thousands, by the tens of thousands, when the registration deadline comes,’’ said President Brian Olesen with American Shooters Supply, among the biggest gun dealers in the state, in an interview with the New York Post.
Even government officials admit that forcing New Yorkers to register their guns will be a tough sell, and they are apparently aware that massive non-compliance will be the order of the day. “Many of these assault-rifle owners aren’t going to register; we realize that,’’ a source in the Cuomo administration told the Post, adding that officials expect “widespread violations” of the new statute.
Threats of imprisoning gun owners for up to a year and confiscating their weapons are already being issued by governor’s office, headed by a rabid anti-Second Amendment extremist who suggested before the bill passed that “confiscation” of all semi-automatic rifles was being considered. If tens or even hundreds of thousands of otherwise law-abiding citizens refuse to comply, however, analysts say New York would either have to start raising taxes and building a lot more prisons, or give up on the scheme that experts say will do nothing to reduce violence and that lawmakers say is aimed at eventual confiscation.
Activists involved in the state-wide boycott against the unconstitutional statute who spoke to the Post almost taunted authorities, saying gun owners would essentially dare authorities to “come and take it away.” According to the paper, leaders of some of the state’s hundreds of gun clubs, dealers, and non-profit organizations, citing the New York Constitution’s guarantee that gun rights “cannot be infringed,” are currently involved in organizing the resistance. Among the primary concerns is that, with registration, authorities would know where to go for confiscation, an idea already proposed openly by Governor Cuomo himself.
“They’re saying, ‘F--- the governor! F--- Cuomo! We’re not going to register our guns,’ and I think they’re serious. People are not going to do it. People are going to resist,” explained State Rifle and Pistol Association President Tom King, who also serves on the National Rifle Association board of directors. “They’re taking one of our guaranteed civil rights, and they’re taking it away.”
The NRA itself, while saying that it did not participate in organizing resistance to the law, admitted that it was not surprised by the open defiance among gun owners. “I will say this: Historic experience here and in Canada shows that when you try to force gun owners into a registration and licensing system, there’s usually mass opposition and mass noncompliance,” NRA President David Keene told the Post. “I think it’s going to be very difficult for the governor to get mass compliance with this new law.”
Throughout the short discussion on the bill, GOP legislators warned about the prospect of resistance — potentially resulting in violence. Indeed, even some lawmakers have already promised to defy the new unconstitutional statute. Republican state Assemblyman Steve Katz, for example, told his colleagues during the debate that the legislation’s attempt to re-define semi-automatic rifles as banned “assault weapons” creates “a new class of criminals overnight.” However, he also mentioned that he had no intention of complying with the arbitrary seven-bullet maximum demanded under the legislation.
“I leave my wife and three young daughters home alone for days at a time to represent my constituents here,” Katz said on the floor of the Assembly. “After what happened to the young mother in Loganville, Georgia who defended her two young children against an intruder, this bill will turn me into a criminal because you can bet that before I leave to do the people’s work, there will be more than seven bullets in the magazine of my wife’s firearm.”
He concluded his plea for respecting gun rights with some quotes about the reason for the Second Amendment and New York state’s even more overt prohibition on infringements. The first one he read came from George Washington: “A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.”
As in the rest of the United States, law enforcement has also been speaking out about infringements on the right to keep and bear arms — especially after the SAFE Act was rammed through so hastily that, according to analysts, "oops," police officers are now in violation of the law too. New York sheriffs have become outspoken about the rights of citizens, as well, expressing serious concerns about violations of unalienable rights contained in the new state statute.
"This law has some issues pertaining to the Second Amendment," explained Putnam County Sheriff Donald Smith, one of many to express reservations about the new rules. "I'm deeply concerned in haste to pass the law, they may have missed the point on some of the mental health issues and are dealing with some ammunition and gun issues and law-enforcement issues."
Steuben County Sheriff David Cole, meanwhile, released a statement backed by the local police union criticizing the highly controversial statute as well. "These laws will now make it so thousands and thousands of law-abiding citizens, who go to work, pay their taxes, and [are] concerned about their children's future, will now be considered criminals if they choose to stand up for the Second Amendment rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution," Sheriff Cole noted, echoing widespread concerns being heard throughout the state.
Ironically, even some anti-gun extremists who openly support lawlessly infringing on unalienable rights have criticized the legislation. The ultra-far-left Center for American Progress, funded by billionaire statist George Soros, for example, complained about the provisions purporting to obligate doctors to report their patients to authorities if they express violent or suicidal thoughts — all in violation of the traditional doctor-patient confidentiality relationship.
Doctors belittled the provision, too, noting that it could discourage people who otherwise would seek help from talking to healthcare providers out of fear that the police could show up at their door and confiscate their weapons. "The people who arguably most need to be in treatment and most need to feel free to talk about these disturbing impulses, may be the ones we make least likely to do so," Dr. Paul Appelbaum at Columbia University told the Associated Press. Critics say the provision will turn New York into a "psychiatric police state."
Meanwhile, at the national level, some Democrat lawmakers and President Obama are seeking draconian new gun bans and a wide array of other infringements on the right to keep and bear arms. State governments and sheriffs nationwide, however, are speaking out, working to nullify any assault on gun rights, and if needed, arrest federal officials trying to enforce unconstitutional rules. With the amount of resistance already expressing itself in New York, analysts say attempting similar schemes at the federal level would be literally insane. Still, that does not mean it will not be attempted.
Alex Newman is a correspondent for The New American, covering economics, politics, and more. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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