I am a Democrat and I support Gov. Andrew Cuomo. However, I part ways with him on the NY-SAFE Act.
I do not question his motives, or those of the many Democrats and Republicans who voted for the Act, but I do question the basis for and the constitutionality of certain provisions in the Act.
Specifically, I object to provisions that ban commonly used firearms based purely on design features that do not render those firearms any more or less deadly than lawful firearms. I also question the ban on high-capacity magazines, a ban that is so broad that it implicitly bans numerous firearms now in common use.
I understand the appeal of the SAFE Act, especially to non-gun owners. After all, who “needs” assault weapons, and shouldn’t we do everything possible to protect lives? But, these provisions significantly infringe upon my rights as a citizen of this country and do little to nothing to save lives. Moreover, the Act fails to sufficiently address mental health and other issues that might actually reduce violence.
The Act has good provisions that ought to be kept, such as provisions that protect victims of domestic abuse. However, it goes too far in restricting our liberties and not far enough in addressing the root causes of violence.
Perhaps worst of all is that the governor and the Legislature can now cross gun violence off the agenda as if they’ve solved the problem, without actually having taken any significant action to prevent future mass shootings.
I urge the governor and the Legislature to re-think this law and, this time around, to engage experts and to invest time and resources, including resources of the state Department of Health, to understanding and developing measures that will actually reduce violence and not merely scapegoat so-called assault weapons.
Lentz is a councilman for the town of New Lisbon.