Comment: There are two things to do when you’ve made a political calculation that backfires. The techniques apply regardless of whether it’s a law you’ve touted that caused unintended consequences or when an appointee or elected official you supported turns out to be an embarrassment.
In the case of unintended consequences simply unleash a barrage of statistics to support that you have done the right thing and they don’t have to be accurate or relevant. If it’s an individual who is a problem then circle the wagons, heap praise on the persons accomplishments and see that they are given prestigious awards and praise.
A year after the passage of New York’s infamous Safe Act, a spokeswoman for the governor declares that the numbers are indisputable – the Safe Act has enabled the state to better protect New Yorkers. “There have been 1291 charges under the new law with 1155 for felony firearms possession, formerly a misdemeanor, with 1041 of these cases (81%) in NYC, mostly Brooklyn and the Bronx. Separately, 17,751 people have been charged this year with misdemeanor weapons possession, almost 90% in NYC. These charges includes other weapons such as switchblades, blackjacks and brass knuckles.” No cause and effect correlation is provided to demonstrate which components of the SAFE Act were responsible for these enforcement actions.
Said proclamation of the SAFE Act as a success is unsupported transparent nonsense and a shallow attempt to provide cover to the Governor.
Details of the felony weapons charges noted above have not been disclosed. Interestingly, the ban on so called assault weapons doesn’t take affect until January 15 so I suspect the 1291 arrests were primarily for possession of unregistered firearms which would have occurred without the SAFE Act. Also not reported was the disposition of these cases in terms of follow up prosecution. Law enforcement I’ve spoken with often state their frustration with weapons charges being used as plea bargaining chips. In addition, the announcement fails to provide a breakdown between firearms, switchblades, blackjacks and brass knuckles. The 17,751 number sounds like a red herring thrown in to obfuscate and pump up the laws effectiveness.
As Nancy Pelosi said “…we have to pass the law to find out what’s in it!” Pass it the Governor did in the dark of night with no opportunity for debate or input. The response from the public was and continues to be loud and strong – Repeal It! Note that tens of thousands of Repeal the Safe Act signs permeate front yards across the state. In addition, 52 of 62 New York counties and 225 municipal governments have passed resolutions in opposition and Sheriffs across the state have said they will not enforce. Billboards have been placed in Albany as a constant reminder to our legislators of what upstate thinks about this legislation. Seems like a lot of folks found out what’s in the bill.
Lets take a look at independently published crime statistics and assess where this law is directed and whom it truly affects:
Homicides in NY State in 2011 totaled 767. Of these only 5 were committed with a rifle of any kind and 76% occurred in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and NYC.
Nationally, of 12,996 homicides in 2010, only 2% were committed with a rifle of any kind.
The 1994-2004 Assault Weapon ban was a failure which did not contribute to a reduction in crime. Violent crime in the US has continually declined from 1990 to the present – it is down 49% while the population of firearms has increased by 100%.
The vast majority of violent crime occurs in cities with populations of 250,000 or more and are primarily drug and gang related.
There is a cultural component to violent crime that the politicians want to deflect attention from because it speaks to the failure of many government policies and programs. Statistics from the US Department of Justice, FBI Uniform Crime Report and the National Youth Gang Survey Analysis show some frightening facts:
In 2008, black youths who make up 16% of the youth population accounted for 52% of juvenile crime arrests including 58.5% of arrests for youth homicide.
A 2009 study disclosed that 49% of gang members are Hispanic/Latino, 35% are African American with 9% white and 7% other.
Between 1980 and 2008, blacks accounted for 52.5% of homicides and whites 45.3% – this in the context of blacks representing less than 14% of the US population.
Clearly, the crime problem is primarily an inner city demographic occurring in larger metropolitan areas and are drug and gang related. Instead of dealing with this the politicians demonize an inanimate object with an emotion charged label of assault weapon. The SAFE Act fails to deal with the real issues and instead criminalizes people for what they lawfully owned prior to its enactment. It further penalizes and encumbers the law abiding for the simple acts of buying ammunition or giving a firearm to a family member.
Key components of the SAFE Act include a ban on so called assault weapons, a ban on magazines that exceed ten round capacity, a requirement that firearms be loaded with no more than seven rounds , background checks for ammunition purchases, severe restrictions for firearms transfers unless a background check is performed, confiscation of private property (without compensation) from the owners upon their passing and registration with the state of ALL firearms owned by a person upon their passing.
There is no justification in any statistics or independent study to indicate any of these elements are, can be or have been effective in addressing crime or criminals. On the contrary, there is substantial evidence that these make criminals out of the law abiding. Case in point is the singular arrest for the illegal sale of a so called assault weapon when the seller was co opted into consummating the sale the day after rather than the day before the law took affect.
The so called assault weapon ban is absurd on two counts. First and foremost no one can define an assault weapon beyond certain cosmetic features. Second, such firearms are used in an insignificant number of crimes unless you count the ones given by the US Department of Justice to the Mexican Drug cartels. According to the SAFE Act, a firearm is prohibited if it is a semi automatic with a detachable magazine and any one of the following; bayonet lug, a flash suppressor, muzzle brake, barrel shroud, grenade launcher, protruding pistol grip, protruding forearm grip, thumb hole stock or adjustable stock. Characteristics which have nothing to do with the function of the firearm. I had to dispose of the thumb hole stock that came with my M597 Remington target grade 22 and replace it with a standard stock to “de Cuomo it” and avoid registration and eventual confiscation.
The Safe Act trashes the Second Amendment rights of the law abiding and ignores the fact that the law will not be obeyed by criminals. Unfortunately, it is not about crime and criminals but it is about control.<