Even a New York Judge can’t get the Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo or the NY State Police to release what could be embarrassing numbers. Despite an order issued by New York Judge Thomas J. McNamara, and required by the SAFE Act, The state officials are dragging their feet.
Release of Data Resisted
Arguing that publishing information on the numbers of people who have complied with the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, also known as SAFE Act in New York, the NY State Police are stonewalling.
The law was passed by the New York State Legislature on January 15, 2013, in the middle of the night, and was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo the next day.
On April 30, 2015 Judge McNamara issued an order calling for New York State Police to reveal the quantity of people who have registered their weapons as “assault weapons” as required by the SAFE Act.
Governor Cuomo and the State Police, which are subject to Cuomo’s orders, appear to believe that the state should be keeping the information secret. No one agrees with their position. In response to a query, a spokesman for the State Police said, “The State Police is considering an appeal of the court ruling. The release of the information is on hold until that decision is made.”
The SAFE Act built on the national Assault Weapons Ban, signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton in 1994. Under the SAFE Act, the definition of “semiautomatic assault weapon” included specific firearm models by name and other firearms that possess two or more from a set list of features. .
Several groups have been working for repeal of the SAFE Act
Groups such as Shooters Committee on Political Education are betting that the number of gun owners who registered their weapons as “assault weapons” is insignificant. When the SAFE Act was implemented, New Yorkers defied the registration law.
When Connecticut, next door to New York, passed a similar statute, the state received only about 50,000 applications for “Assault weapons.” The state legislature had previously estimated over 370,000 rifles would be covered by the law.
Because of the apparent mass disobedience, the Hartford Courant threaten to send the police chasing everyone.
Most observers believe that the State Police is stonewalling because of similarly small numbers in the Empire State. If the number of registered weapons is small, then the threat is reduced and the legislature loses face for its ill-conceived “get tough” policy. With lower menace, the State Police could lose funding as the number of dangerous weapons isn’t as high as thought. The New York citizenry is already claiming that money spent on law enforcement could be better spend on programs deal with crime prevention.
However, if the numbers stayed inflated, then the ban on “assault weapons” would be an easier sell.
Even before 1994 when “assault weapons” were banned, America had been divided over gun control. There is one idea that many have agreed upon: The selling of assault weapons should be banned.
That idea was one of the brick’s in the Obama administration’s foundation to cut down on gun violence and it’s a thought that is still popular with the public. In a poll conducted in December 2013, 59 percent of voters said they favor a ban.
Politicians and law enforcements have worked together to turn assault weapons into a political weapon. The reality is that military style rifles don’t kill the majority of the 11,000 United States citizens killed with guns each year. Its small handguns that do.
In 2012, according to FBI data, only 322 people were killed with any kind of rifle.
The continuing focus by police on assault weapons finds its home in the media’s obsession with mass shootings. Shootings which involve weapons such as the AR15, a civilian version of the armed force’s M16, feed the media obsession. Sensational news coverage of mass shootings, in turn, masks the real truth about who is actually dying from gunshots.
Each year, roughly 5,000 to 6,000 black men are murdered with guns. Black males are only 6 percent of the overall population, yet of the 30 Americans killed each day, half are black men.
It was much the same in the 1990s when law enforcement pushed politicians into creating, and then banning, a category of guns they chose to call “assault weapons.” Amerca was in the middle of a spike in gun crime and law enforcement said it was a problem which threatened everyone.
Politicians pushed for a ban of what seemed like the most dangerous guns — assault rifles. The media, and law enforcement, presented the assault weapons as the “gun of choice” by drug dealers.
While handguns were used in more than 80 percent of gun murders, the politically defined category of weapons figured in about 2 percent of gun crimes nationwide.
Law enforcement’s idea of banning the sale of military-style weapons resonated with lawmakers, on both sides of the aisle, and with the public.
Why does the public continue to support a ban on assault weapons?
Simple: The use of the weapons are rare overall, but they’re still used often enough in gun violence and what gets the most media attention, mass shootings.
Most American do not know that gun murders have dropped by 59 percent since 1993 as violent crime also fell. A Pew survey following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, found that 56 percent of Americans believe — wrongly — that the rate of gun crime was higher than it was two decades before.
New York firearms attorney, Arkady Bukh, argues that the issue of gun crimes are subordinate to the real demand which is first dealing with poverty or drugs.
“A closer look at the social networks inside the neighborhoods most affected show, that only an insignificant number of men drive most of the violence,” said Bukh.
“Identify them and change their behavior and it’s possible to have an immediate impact,” he added.
Even though New York estimates the number of “assault weapons” being in the neighborhood of one million, no one knows for certain. “Assault weapon” is a politically defined category and can often be made legal by just swapping a part or two.
If Connecticut citizens are telling the authorities to stick it, it would not be a surprise for New Yorkers did the same. Defiance of gun restrictions is the worldwide norm instead of being the exception.