AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
Tom Precious of the Buffalo News has written a pretty scathing takedown of the shameful politicking that takes place any time the New York legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo start stumping for gun control. As it turns out, bills that were deemed as vitally important and desperately needed are still waiting for Cuomo’s signature months after lawmakers approved the bills and sent them on to the governor for his signature.
It was a dire month for mass shootings around the nation, so Democrats in the Assembly and Senate moved swiftly to crack down on devices that make guns unload rounds more quickly, add new background check restrictions, block teachers and others from carrying guns on school grounds and create a new statewide gun buyback program for municipalities.
Six months later, however, the four measures have yet to be acted on by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, whose administration on Jan. 29 signaled he supported all of the bills.
Had they been signed into law six months ago, two of the measures would have become law immediately, two others would take effect this coming Sunday.
Strangely, it appears the laws suddenly became less important when anti-gun lawmakers couldn’t get any more press out of them. The bills have yet to be formally transmitted to Cuomo, because the governor simply hasn’t asked for them yet.
In May, The Buffalo News asked the Senate why the gun bills had not yet been sent to Cuomo given the Senate’s quick passage of it in the opening weeks of the 2019 session. On Thursday, the response was basically the same.
“We hope the governor requests the bills and [they] are signed immediately,” said Mike Murphy, a spokesman for the Senate’s Democratic conference.
I’m sure they’ll be signed eventually. Whether or not they’ll be enforced is another story entirely, and would make a great follow up for Precious and the Buffalo News. See, Cuomo and his anti-gun pals in the NY legislature have a history of pushing for gun control laws that, once on the books, they don’t really want to talk about.
In 2013, the New York SAFE Act became law, and among its many provisions were requirements for New Yorkers to register their so-called “assault weapons” with the state. A few years later, one local media outlet noted that there had been “massive non-compliance” with the law. Of an estimated 1,000,000 “assault weapons” in New York, only 44,000 had been registered with the state.
There was another provision in the SAFE Act requiring existing handgun owners to re-register their previously registered handguns with the state. The original deadline was in early 2018. One guess as to what happened.
More than three-quarters of New York state’s more than 1 million permited pistol owners still haven’t recertified their permits as required by state law, according to state officials.
There were hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who became criminals by not re-registering their handguns with the state, as required. Cuomo’s response was to delay the implementation of the law for a year. Twelve months passed, and absolutely nothing happened. This time the NY media didn’t even bother to cover the new impending deadline, and Cuomo’s office wasn’t about to issue any press releases that drew attention to the non-compliance with the law.
Other portions of the SAFE Act proved problematic as well. The ammunition background checks that were supposed to be performed by the NY State Police were put on ice by Cuomo in 2015 after the state police a “lack of adequate technology” to conduct the checks. Four years later, the technology still isn’t there, apparently, and neither Cuomo or any of the lawmakers who voted for the ammunition background checks have said anything more about bringing that part of the SAFE Act online.
The SAFE Act called for a ban on magazines over seven rounds, which soon became a ban on carrying more than seven rounds in your ten round magazine, which soon became so confusing and wrapped up in legal battles that some prosecutors said they would no longer try to enforce the law, again without any objections coming from the politicians who claimed the ban was a desperately needed piece of legislation that would save lives.
In upstate New York, six years after the SAFE Act became law, you can still find “No SAFE Act” signs sprinkled along roadsides and in front yards of rural and suburban homes. Gun owners are much more interested in talking about the gun control package than its supporters these days, and I suspect that will be the case for these four gun bills that will eventually be signed by Governor Cuomo. The real goal seems to be legislative passage, not actual enforcement of these bills. It’s almost like the laws are more about public relations than public safety.