AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

We’re still several months away from the return of most state legislatures, but already anti-gun Democrats in Albany, New York are putting together an ambitious agenda for the start of the 2020 session in January. With anti-gun majorities in both chambers, and a governor who’s never found a gun control bill unacceptable, 2nd Amendment advocates are hoping to push back, but acknowledge it’s going to be difficult to stop any of the bills headed their way.

After a half-dozen gun control and safety issues this year were pushed through the first session of the new, all-Democratic Legislature, 2020 is already worrying Second Amendment advocates.

“The sky’s the limit. They can go as far as they want,” Tom King, president of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association and a National Rifle Association board member, said of state lawmakers.

Some lawmakers want to go very far in restricting the rights of New York residents. How far?

More than 150 bills pending before the Legislature will be live again for consideration next year. Some have lingered for years and have no chance, while others could become law in 2020. Some of the bills include:

  • Banning firearms from being given out as awards in games of chance and requiring all schools “to include age-appropriate instruction on anti-gun violence as part of the education curriculum provided in regular classrooms.”
  • Increasing penalties for hate crimes in which guns are used, making it illegal to promote or sell a weapon on public property and ban gun shows on land or buildings owned by the state.
  • Microstamping of ammunition, permitting police access to gun license applicants’ social media accounts to see if there are patterns of hateful or violent posts.

“We’re always looking for ways to make New York safer and better,” said Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris, a Queens Democrat.

As the Buffalo News notes, some of these bills have been filed in previous legislative sessions, including microstamping and a bill that would have demanded police get access to the social media accounts of any prospective gun owner before granting them a gun license. But the paper also points out that some gun control activists in the state think New York should take a step back in 2020 and let Congress take the lead on new gun laws.

Krueger, the Manhattan senator, pointed to bills that could be considered, like the large caliber rifle ban. “I’m not trying to outlaw hunting, but huge numbers of guns out there are not for hunting purposes and I don’t believe we should have them in our homes,’’ she said.

Democrats in Albany talk of a national focus for 2020.

“I think there’s also a recognition, particularly in a president election year, that a big push should and will be made on finding out where our presidential candidates stand on federal action,” Krueger said.

Tom King, head of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, doesn’t seem to think that many state lawmakers will be willing to take a back seat to presidential candidates or members of Congress, however.

King, who is also a board member of the National Rifle Association, worries New York lawmakers will try to push ahead with mandates on smart technology weapons, which would require a fingerprint or some other biometric feature in order to fire a weapon. And he says that anti-gun sentiment is deep enough in some quarters of the Legislature that gun confiscation attempts are always a top worry.

“A lot of stuff they’ve done is pretty draconian,” King said of bills lawmakers passed and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed this year. “What we are concerned about is the fact that there are so many other things that they can do … and New York and California are trying to out-do each other,” he said of gun laws in the two dark blue states.

“I think 2020 is going to be worse than this year. I just think they feel empowered,” King said of the Democratic-controlled Legislature in Albany.

I suspect Tom King is correct about the feeling of empowerment among anti-gun legislators. They know that whatever they can send to Governor Cuomo is likely to be signed, and they’re well aware that 2020 is an election year for many of them as well. Why let federal lawmakers take credit for “doing something” when there are still so many ways they can restrict legal gun ownership at the state level?