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Columns

March 26, 2013

Cuomo policy: Informing on gun owners

According to a Rockland County Times article, the state Division of Criminal Justice Services recently sent this letter to police agencies to remind them of an existing free resource:

“The state has established a toll-free tip line (1-8X5-GUN-XXXX) to encourage residents to report illegal firearm possession. The tip line also allows for information to be submitted via text — While the state will provide the administrative support and fund the rewards ($500), the investigation and validity of the tip will be up to each local department.

“To spread the word about this free resource, state is planning a comprehensive campaign, including public service announcements that will air on television and radio stations across upstate.”

To be fair to Gov. Cuomo, which is more than he’s been to us, this “tip line” is not new and began in February 2012. Supposedly, the intent was to help citizens in high-crime areas report suspected individuals believed to be in possession of illegal weapons.

Even though the recent letter to police agencies also preceded the passage of the NY Safe Act, the impending “comprehensive campaign including public service announcements that will air on television and radio stations across upstate” — coupled with the passage of the NY Safe Act — has raised justified concerns.

First of all, upstate New York is not a high-crime area, so why the upstate publicity blitz? Secondly, can you imagine the potential for error when it comes to folks, who may not know an AR-15 from a Weatherby Mark V, reporting suspected “illegal firearm possession”?

Think about it. Unless the suspect is a known felon (then you should call the local police ASAP), how would you know the firearm is illegal? Does it look “stolen”? Is the suspect wearing camo and have a “Happiness is a Big Gut Pile” bumper sticker on his pickup truck? Does the magazine appear to hold more than 10 rounds? It could be a 30-rounder, but be pinned to hold only 10, therefore perfectly legal.

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