New York lawmaker wants to punish NRA for successfully challenging gun law

New York lawmaker wants to punish NRA for successfully challenging gun law
AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File

I’m sure there’s more than one legislator in the Empire State who’d like to apply the screws to the NRA for its support of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association’s challenge to the state’s “may issue” concealed carry laws, but so far only one of them is willing to go on the record stating that his proposed legislation is meant to be punishment for the group daring to defend the constitutionally-protected right to bear arms in self-defense.

Senate Bill 9601 would remove the National Rifle Association from the list of organizations authorized to grant certificates as “instructors in small arms practice.” In other words, NRA-certified firearms instructors wouldn’t be certified at all, at least as far as the state of New York is concerned. That would impact almost every firearms instructor in the state, and the bill’s sponsor isn’t shy about the intent behind the move.

Under Senate Bill 9601, the state Department of Criminal Justice Services would develop a curriculum for gun-safety training. The legislation comes several months after the Supreme Court struck down the state’s concealed-carry laws, which required that a person show “proper cause” to want to carry a gun.

State Sen. Sean Ryan, D-Buffalo, who introduced the new bill, said it was brought forward because of the NRA’s support for that lawsuit. He described what he hopes the training would cover.

“I would hope if the Department of Criminal Justice Services makes up the curriculum,” he said, “that they will then train New Yorkers about how to safely store their guns, the responsibility of a gun owner – vis-a-vis children in the house – but also to go over places where guns are and are not allowed in New York State.”

Ryan said he’s seen opposition from the New York State Pistol and Rifle Association. In the long term, he said, he’s convinced passing the bill would create a safer New York. The bill is currently in the Senate Rules Committee.

Ryan said he hopes the new curriculum would mean gun-safety instructors could also better inform people about how stolen guns end up on the street.

It’s one thing for the state to adopt its own curriculum standards for teaching. It’s another for the state to declare that NRA certification for firearms instructors would be meaningless. And the text of SB 9601 is even more explicit in its intent to punish the NRA (and all of the NRA-certified instructors in the state) for its position on the right to keep and bear arms, which Ryan blames for virtually every bit of violent crime in the state and country at large.

Where the NRA was once viewed as an authority on gun safety, it has become an extremist organization that prioritizes political advocacy at the expense of safety. After numerous incidents of gun violence, instead of supporting reason- able gun safety measures, the NRA has pursued an extreme political agen- da focused on overturning gun safety laws here in New York and across the nation.

Through its conduct as an organization, the NRA has proven to no longer be an authority on gun safety.

I’m sure Ryan would love to replace the NRA with a group like Moms Demand Action or Everytown for Gun Safety, but given that their idea of gun safety is “don’t own one,” that would be a very short training course and wouldn’t be of any value to any actual gun owner.

Ryan’s plan, if approved in its current form, would also be a nightmare for those trying to obtain the training mandated by the state in order to exercise their Second Amendment rights. Every existing firearms instructor in the state would have to become certified by the Division of Criminal Justice Services before they could hold a single class, and the backlog alone would make it impossible for would-be gun owners and those applying for a concealed carry license to meet the training requirements.

Ryan might have aimed for the NRA, but as usual with the anti-2A crowd he’s really hitting New Yorkers who are trying to obey the state’s draconian laws and the instructors who are teaching them how to be safe and responsible while exercising their fundamental and constitutionally protected right to own and carry a gun. I doubt he’s losing much sleep over how law-abiding citizens would be impacted by his petty piece of legislation, but New Yorkers should be plenty concerned; not only about the impact to their Second Amendment rights, but the blatant attempt at legislative retribution for those who defend our individual rights.