What the Law-Abiding New York Firearms’ Owner Must Know about Governor Andrew Cuomo’s NYSAFE Act
This post continues my discussion of NYSAFE. Several more will follow. We will look at Governor Cuomo’s NYSAFE website. That site too talks about NYSAFE. The Governor hails his NYSAFE site as a “one-stop resource” for information about NYSAFE. But is it? The Governor claims NYSAFE preserves the Second Amendment. But does it? The Governor says NYSAFE promotes “a safer New York.” But can it? We will examine the Governor’s assertions. We shall see if those assertions hold up to scrutiny. In forthcoming posts, we will take a close look at the words, ‘assault weapon.’ We will explore the origins of the words. I will show the notion is an invention. The notion of ‘assault weapon’ does not describe any firearm. Rather, antigun groups and their allied politicians in Congress and in State Legislatures across the Country created the idea to ban firearms. I will also explore the origin of the words ‘assault rifle.’ The expression ‘assault weapon’ is often, wrongly, tied to the words ‘assault rifle.’ The words aren’t synonymous. They do not refer to the same weapons. They do not refer to the same kinds of weapons. And I will provide you with some “tips.” These tips will help you to understand NYSAFE as we bore into it. My goal is to build a model for examining firearms. Once completed, you can test any firearm. You can determine, with reasonable accuracy if the firearm is an “assault weapon” under NYSAFE. We will look closely at the definitions of ‘assault weapon’ and ‘detachable magazine.’ We will go over several Sections of NYSAFE you must know. Let’s begin.
A Look At Governor Cuomo’s NYSAFE Website.
In a previous post I gave you some background on the NYSAFE Act and I gave you the web address to Governor Cuomo’s site. If you missed it CLICK HERE!
I certainly don’t cite the Governor’s NYSAFE website to praise it. And, I don’t cite it to amuse you. After all the goal of NYSAFE is to separate you from your firearms. That’s neither praiseworthy nor amusing. I cite it for two reasons. The first should be immediately obvious. The second will become obvious through this and subsequent posts. As for the former, I point out the hypocrisy of the Governor’s position. NYSAFE is inconsistent with the right to keep and bear arms guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Governor Cuomo claims otherwise. As for the latter, NYSAFE isn’t easy to understand. The Governor suggests it is. His treatment of NYSAFE suggests there’s nothing to it. We shall see.
NYSAFE Weakens the Second Amendment.
NYSAFE is antithetical to the import of the Second Amendment. NYSAFE does not strengthen the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. And NYSAFE does nothing to preserve it. Nor is NYSAFE neutral on it. NYSAFE weakens the Second Amendment. And NYSAFE does so in a major way. That’s its purpose. That’s what it does. That’s what the drafters of it wanted. That’s what is was designed to do. Make no mistake about it.
Both the Governor and the drafters of NYSAFE detest firearms. And, subject to very narrow exceptions, they do not wish New York residents to possess them.
So, is the Governor’s NYSAFE site a grand deception? I am not saying it is. I don’t know. But it may very well be. Let me explain.
The Governor’s NYSAFE website oversimplifies the NYSAFE Act. And the site conveys dangerously misleading or incomplete information.
Why do I say this? I’ll give you an example. Consider the “revolving cylinder shotgun.” Is this an “assault weapon” under NYSAFE? The answer is, “yes.” And, the Governor’s NYSAFE website doesn’t tell you it isn’t. But, the Governor’s website tells you a “revolving cylinder shotgun” is an “assault weapon” for the wrong reason. The analysis is poor and misstates NYSAFE!
I’ll demonstrate. Go to the site. Once there, click on “Gun Owners.” Then click on the link that reads: “I am not sure if the gun I own is an assault weapon. How do I find out?” A dropdown menu will appear. Click on “shotguns.” Then click on “Banned Features.” A PDF document will load. Once the document loads, you will see this: “a shotgun requires registration when it is semiautomatic and has one of the following characteristics: . . .” Scroll down until you see a graphic of the Armsel Striker 12-guage shotgun. The Governor’s site says this gun has a banned feature, namely, a “second handgrip.” Is the Armsel Striker an assault weapon under NYSAFE? Yes. But the Governor’s site says the Armsel Striker shotgun is an assault weapon for the wrong reason. The Governor’s site says the “Armsel Striker 12-guage shotgun is an assault weapon under NYSAFE because it’s semiautomatic and has a banned feature. That isn’t true. First, the Armsel Striker shotgun isn’t a semiautomatic. It operates through a revolving cylinder. Second, the Armsel Striker shotgun does have a “banned feature” but, since the Armsel Striker isn’t a semiautomatic, it cannot be an assault weapon under the definition the Governor’s NYSAFE website gives. The “banned feature” criterion only applies to a shotgun that is a semiautomatic in operation. So, if a shotgun isn’t a semiautomatic, then the “banned feature” criterion is irrelevant. The shotgun cannot be an “assault weapon.” So, under the definition of shotguns that are ‘assault weapons,’ the Armsel Striker 12-guage fails the test. In fact, the Armsel Striker shotgun might have several “assault weapon characteristics,” but, since the shotgun isn’t a semiautomatic, it isn’t an assault weapon under that definition. Why is the definition important? Because the definition is codified in New York Law. NYSAFE lays out several definitions for ‘assault weapon.’ A firearm isn’t an “assault weapon” unless it meets the definition as written.
Now, NYSAFE does specifically say revolving cylinder shotguns are assault weapons. Section 37(D) of NYSAFE classifies revolving cylinder shotguns as assault weapons. So, since the Armsel Striker revolving cylinder shotgun is an “assault weapon” under NYSAFE, am I creating unnecessary ‘fuss?’” The answer is, “no.”
Consider: if Section 37(D) of NYSAFE didn’t exist, the Armsel Striker and all other revolving cylinder shotguns wouldn’t be assault weapons under NYSAFE. Still, the Governor’s NYSAFE website would tell you they are assault weapons. The content of the Governor’s NYSAFE website is haphazardly written. The site dangerously oversimplifies the definitional scheme of NYSAFE. In so doing, the Governor’s NYSAFE site gives the visitor bad advice. That doesn’t seem to concern the Governor. But it should concern you. You should know what NYSAFE actually says, not what the Governor’s site simply wants you to believe. The Governor’s site also suggests NYSAFE is simple to understand. It isn’t. The Governor’s NYSAFE website gives the visitor simplistic advice. Simplistic advice is bad advice. Errors in judgment occur. Your error in judgment doesn’t pose a problem for Governor Cuomo or for the drafters of NYSAFE. But it does pose a problem for you, the gun owner. If you rely on bad advice, you may suffer irreparable harm. You may lose your pistol license and long arm permit. If you lose those, you lose your firearms. And you may face misdemeanor or even felony charges. If convicted, you won’t be able to possess a firearm lawfully in New York. And, quite likely, you won’t be able to possess a firearm lawfully in any other State. Would the Governor and the drafters of NYSAFE lose sleep if tens of thousands of New York residents lost their firearms for failure to appreciate the complexity of NYSAFE by relying on bad advice? Not likely.
The Governor and New York State Legislature are Constrained by the Second Amendment.
The Governor and the New York State Legislature cannot ban firearms outright. They are constrained by the Second Amendment from doing so. They are also constrained by the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Second Amendment in the 2008 case District of Columbia vs. Heller. NYSAFE conflicts with both the Second Amendment and Heller. That doesn’t bother Governor Cuomo and the drafters of NYSAFE. We can therefore understand, if not respect, the Governor’s reluctance to clarify ambiguities and vagueness inherent in NYSAFE. The evident reluctance of the Governor to deal effectively with the complexities inherent in the NYSAFE Act, on his site, serves to benefit those who wish to disarm New York residents. Contrariwise, the evident reluctance of the Governor to deal effectively with the complexities inherent in NYSAFE does not benefit those who wish to keep their firearms – you. These observations are consistent with the purpose of NYSAFE. Otherwise, it wouldn’t exist. And it shouldn’t exist. After all, prior to enactment of NYSAFE, New York already had among the strictest firearms laws in the Country. So, why do New York residents need more of them? And we know the Governor has a personal distaste for firearms. Given this distaste, he’s reluctant to understand the thing he has a bias against. So, too, the failure of New York Legislators to draft coherent firearms laws is due, in part, to a failure to understand their subject matter. The drafters of NYSAFE do not understand the function of and limitations inherent in any particular firearm. And, of course, each firearm does embrace and exhibit particular strengths and weaknesses.
What is Missing from NYSAFE?
My question does not carry the implication NYSAFE should exist. For clearly, NYSAFE should not exist. But, for any legislation, the public has a right to know its meaning. The drafters of the NYSAFE Act failed to draft a clear, concise, cogent, coherent, cohesive, and consistent piece of legislation — the “6 c’s” of good legislative draftsmanship. These are missing from NYSAFE. But this does not concern the drafters of it. There may be a subtle motive behind the drafters’ failure to draft clear, concise, cogent, coherent, cohesive, and consistent firearms legislation. This may be due, in part, to the failure of the drafters of NYSAFE to comprehend the technical attributes of particular firearms. That doesn’t bother the drafters of NYSAFE, though. Their passion isn’t firearms. They don’t have a desire to understand them. They simply want to ban them. In the alternative they want to regulate them. Eventually, they wish to regulate them out of existence. So, they reason: if NYSAFE is ambiguous and vague and overly complex, so much the better. After all, what better motive exists to draft ambiguous and vague firearms laws than the motive to confound the firearms’ wielding public. If confused, those who possess firearms will lose them. That’s the endgame. That’s what the drafters of NYSAFE want. That’s apparently what Governor Cuomo wants too.
I intend to explore the nuances of the NYSAFE Act. The Governor obviously does not. Through comparison and contrast between the words conveyed on the Arbalest Quarrel website and the words conveyed on the Governor’s NYSAFE website, you will see NYSAFE is not as easy to follow as the Governor’s NYSAFE site suggests. But, any attempt to make a difficult job seemingly easy – when it clearly is not – does not serve the New York resident’s best interests. Such serves only to shortchange the New York resident. The resident’s concerns remain unanswered and unresolved. The NYSAFE Act is a tangled mess of laws. NYSAFE is codified in the Consolidated Laws of New York. The Governor refers to his NYSAFE website as a “one-stop resource.” The assertion borders on conceit. And inconsistencies abound.
The Governor’s NYSAFE website is eye-catching. But glitz is empty. Extravagant display does not replace accurate and detailed information. And engaging graphics do not replace incisive and decisive and comprehensive analysis. Fanfare can attract but also ensnare and trap. NYSAFE is not straightforward and simple to understand but the Governor suggests it is.
On the home page of his NYSAFE website the Governor also boasts: “The SAFE Act “. . . imposes the toughest ASSAULT WEAPONS’ ban in the Country.” Yet in the very next line, the Governor proclaims oddly and inconsistently: “. . . this new law preserves and protects your right to buy, sell, keep, or use your guns.” And, on a subordinate web page on the same website, the Governor reiterates, “the SAFE Act protects law-abiding citizens’ right to bear arms and does not restrict New Yorkers’ ability to buy, sell, keep or use their guns.” How does taking away a citizen’s firearms protect the citizen’s right to keep and bear arms? We will explore this question as we look at the NYSAFE Act in depth. NYSAFE is the key to understanding current antigun strategy. And we will continue to look at the content of the Governor’s NYSAFE website as the Arbalest Quarrel’s analysis of the NYSAFE Act continues.
Copyright © 2014 Roger J Katz (Towne Criour) All Rights Reserved.