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March 26, 2013

Cuomo policy: Informing on gun owners

By Chuck Pinkey
The Daily Star

---- — 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.

In the frenzy created by Gov. Cuomo, I’d bet that many of our fellow New Yorkers believe ARs and AKs are illegal, and might react accordingly, not realizing that their sales are banned, not their possession.

Then, with the state’s paid encouragement, a golden opportunity has been given to really put the screws to that neighbor or ex-husband. Who knows what could be found in any household once the colonoscopy begins.

Things such as this are fraught with danger, and lead us down a road we may not want to travel. Often to the point of ad nauseam, references are made to Nazi Germany, and people laugh and say, “It’ll never happen here.” Of course not, the Germans weren’t educated in the arts and sciences. They weren’t technologically advanced, nor did they have culture, religion, and great cities like us. Yes, they did.

However, this is America, and should we be encouraged and paid by our government to inform on our fellow Americans? Is this Gov. Cuomo’s view of the America he wishes us to become? I am afraid it is.

Look, if you live in a high-crime neighborhood and suspect wrongdoing of any kind, call the police. Do you need to be paid to do that? However, this zeroing in on guns and the $500 reward for “illegal firearm possession” tips is just another attempt to push Gov. Cuomo’s anti-gun, anti-Second Amendment agenda.

In Gov. Cuomo’s America, constitutional rights can be taken away in the dead of night without debate. You claimed emergency passage, because “the children must be protected,” but in New York, you do not object to babies being aborted in the final trimester. Who speaks for them, or don’t you give a damn? Of course, they don’t vote.

A shooting spree and multiple murders in Mohawk/Herkimer are merely a photo op, and a protest by 10,000 New Yorkers at the state Capitol is not worthy of your time.

Your endless delays of fracking permits, thus keeping much of rural upstate New York in recession, while our rural neighbors in Pennsylvania prosper and still manage to run their farms, is pure political cowardice.

Certainly, your “tip line” and “30 pieces of silver” that encourage upstate New Yorkers to turn in their neighbors if they suspect illegal firearm possession is only a means to an end. Create a few more stats about gun crimes, and you never know, with a little luck, maybe tempers will flare, and there will be real trouble.

I’m just saying. Could be more photo ops for you, and really, that’s all that counts. Who cares about all the trouble you will leave behind. You certainly don’t.

CHUCK PINKEY is a retired area businessman. He can be reached at chuck.ontherightside@gmail.com. The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of The Daily Star and its editorial board, but the author thinks they ought to.