New York county wants warning labels for guns

Photo Courtesy of the National Shooting Sports Foundation

Gun sellers in Albany County, New York could soon be required to provide a warning to customers about the potential dangers of owning a firearm, in what is yet another attempt to try to denormalize and stigmatize responsible gun ownership.

County legislators proposed an ordinance this week that would mandate all gun store owners and employees provide a written notice with every gun sold, as well as posting signage inside their businesses proclaiming “access to a weapon or firearm in the home significantly increases the risk of suicide, homicide, death during domestic disputes and unintentional deaths to children, household members and others,” as well as providing the numbers of the county’s “crisis prevention and response team” as well as the National Suicide Hotline.

If Albany County approves the measure, they won’t be the first in the state to do so. Earlier this year the chief executive in Westchester County signed a similar local ordinance into law, and the Dustin Reidy, the sponsor of the bill in Albany County, says there’s no time to wait or delay action.

“The fact is, we live in the only developed nation where not only mass shootings happen regularly but where death and terror caused by gun violence is pervasive and constant,” he said at Monday’s County Legislature meeting. “We have to do everything we can at all levels of government to stem the horrific tide of gun violence plaguing our nation.”

The county has at least five stores that sell firearms.

Failure to hand out the notices would result in a punishment of up to 15 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

That’s more time than some New Yorkers get for illegally carrying a gun, honestly. It also conjures up images of Albany police going undercover to see if gun stores are really handing out the required notices as they try to enforce the law, which seems like a colossal waste of time and resources that could be spent on pursuing actual violent criminals.

But virtue must be signaled and Reidy has found an easy way to do so. Heck, he didn’t even have to come up with the idea himself. All he and his fellow lawmakers have to do is poach this ordinance from Westchester County, slap it on the books in Albany County, and proclaim they’ve done “something.” They don’t have to actually enforce the law themselves or do any followup to see if these warnings lead to a decline in gun-related suicides, accidents involving firearms, or the criminal misuse of a gun (hint: they won’t).

Compared to the new gun control laws approved by state legislators in Albany just a few days ago, this local ordinance may look fairly innocuous. It’s the intention behind the local law, however, that should rankle gun owners. Trying to frighten people away from exercising their civil rights and establishing a brand new paperwork crime to ensnare gun store owners and employees has nothing to do with preventing violent crime and everything to do with denormalizing gun ownership. As I said yesterday, Democrats aren’t just interested in changing the law. They want to change the culture as well, making exercising our Second Amendment rights socially unacceptable and culturally taboo when they can’t prohibit it outright.