Cuomo had a responsibility to ban assault weapons
Congratulations to Governor Andrew Cuomo. He has done the right thing in responding to the gun insanity that is pervading the United States. There are simply too many guns out there, making it way too easy for all kinds of seriously ill people to get their hands on them. Judging from what we have been reading about many of the monsters who have murdered with impunity, there really are very few ways of predicting who might potentially be a killer waiting to happen. If guns are readily accessible, a person, often under pressure, will reach for one and use it for its intended purpose. If a girlfriend or boyfriend does someone wrong, they risk getting shot through a bathroom door. Some kid who the mental health system has failed may try to work out his complex psychological issues by shooting his mother and heading to a school to commit unthinkable carnage on our beautiful children.
There are no easy answers but at the very least, we can take steps to limit the number of guns out there through various mechanisms. Cuomo is right to insist on universal background checks. He is right to limit the types of guns that are out there. Assault weapons have no business being in homes. Kids can get hold of them. Lovers are killing one another with them. Bad guys are using them for street crimes, including drive-by shootings in which innocent third parties are often senselessly murdered. It seems that sometimes we have to wait until things get so badly out of control that society demands we do something.
Just last week, a huge rally of gun owners took place in front of the Capitol. The crowd demanded that the Cuomo NY Safe Act legislation be rescinded. There were some very angry people there who truly believe that they are on the right side of this issue. If you were to subject them to lie detector tests and ask if they really believe all they are saying about this being an assault on democracy, the polygraph would give you a straight line. Trust me, they believe that it is their absolute right to own guns and every single movement to restrict that right is, in their minds, a perversion of the United States Constitution and the spirit of American democracy. For example, they are furious about the way in which the NY Safe Act was passed.
They hate the way Governor Cuomo used an awkward device known as a “Message of Necessity” that allows legislators to receive and pass a bill in record time under emergency conditions. I have been yelling about this for years, when there was no emergency and when the device was clearly abused. But with murders and mayhem all over the place, if there ever was a need for swift and dramatic action, it is now. Now the gun people are bringing their outrage over the Message of Necessity argument to the courts for adjudication. To wit: did Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature abuse their authority by bringing the act to the legislature in this fashion? The answer from the courts will surely be no. It is entirely possible that the gun folks will find a local judge who will rule in their favor because all politics are local, but when the issue gets to the higher courts, they will properly affirm that Cuomo and the Legislature had every right to do this.
This is one time that Cuomo is right on the money. The real issue is the thousands of guns that are out there in our homes and on our streets. For gun people, any movement on guns is a dire threat. We just cannot afford to wait any longer to curb this clear and present danger to us all. Next time, it could be you or your kid.
Originally published in the Legislative Gazette, 3/4/13