In January, the New York State Legislature passed the Orwellian-sounding “SAFE” (Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement) Act. The act was debated in closed session without committee hearings, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed it into law within an hour of its passage — after waiving the required three-day public comment period. Cuomo bragged that New York now has the “toughest assault weapons ban” in the country but claimed that the law respects the Second Amendment and preserves the rights of “hunters and sportsmen.” The former is true; the latter is a bald-faced lie. Even if you do not live in New York, you should be very worried, because the SAFE Act is a harbinger of what Democrats in the federal government will do nationwide if they can.
The SAFE Act is far worse than you might imagine. Harold “Budd” Schroeder, member of the NRA Board of Directors from New York, described the law as “the rape of our gun rights.” That is no exaggeration. The law is as harsh as (or harsher than) the gun laws of some European nations that do not have a Bill or Rights or a Second Amendment.
The most widely reported provision of the law is the total ban on the sale of military-style rifles classified as “assault weapons,” effective Jan. 15. The provision forever prohibits anyone other than a law enforcement agency from acquiring such weapons, including the popular hunting and target variants of the AR-15 rifle. Current owners of such rifles must register them with the state by 2014, and the registration must be renewed every five years. This gives the state a list of persons from which to confiscate them in the future, and the five-year renewal provision gives the state an excuse to find ways to deny ownership once every five years. Current owners of such rifles may never sell them to another New York State resident in the future.
Shockingly enough, in many ways the “assault weapons ban” is actually one of the statute’s lesser infringements on the Second Amendment. The statute criminalizes, potentially criminalizes, or places under state surveillance even the most innocuous, banal, and pedestrian forms of gun ownership, and it restricts the right of self-defense.