Governor Cuomo and the New York legistature are to be congratulated. New York has become the first state to pass a stricter gun law in the wake of the Newtown shootings. Moreover, this was accomplished in a bi-partisan manner. Yes, amazingly, Republicans and Democrats worked together to find common ground to, in the words of Larry, the Cable Guy, “Get ‘er done.” Other states have been talking about it. The Feds have been talking about it. NY has done it! NY has reminded us all of what politics is supposed to be all about, which the President and Congress appear to have forgotten: COMPROMISE TO ACCOMPLISH.
To be sure, the law is not pefect. There are elements of it that displease liberals and conservatives alike. The gun control enthusiasts wanted an outright ban; the second amendment and NRA supporters view the law as a first step toward an abrogation of their constitutional right to bear arms. However, I think most people will find it to be very reasonable and will support it.
Briefly, the major elements of the law are as follows:
1. Mandates that all assualt weapons and pistols be registered with NYS.
2. Requires all gun owners to recertify gun permits every five years.
3. Strenthens penalties for possession of an illegal gun, or any gun on school grounds, during a drug sale or during commission of a felony.
4. Weapons databases will not be subject to disclosure under FOIA.
5. Mental health professionals must report patients they deem to be a threat to themselves or to others. Such patients must then surrender any guns and/or permits for guns.
CONCLUSION AND PREDICTION
Today, President Obama will announce his proposed gun legislation package. He will do it like he does most things, with much glitz and razzle dazzle. (He will be accompanied by children who, supposedly, have written to him about gun control.) I agree with most observers that the package will face a tough fight in Congress, with much debate and finger-pointing. After all, gun control, along with abortion, is probably the most emotional issue in this country. There are many diverse views that deserve to be heard and will be heard. In the end, I expect that Congress will pass some form of gun legislation, although it may not be exactly to Mr. Obama’s liking.
I hope that Mr. Obama does not become frustrated and resort to trying to accomplish his goals by Executive Order. EOs have their place. There is ample precedent for them, but Obama supporters beware. EOs can be a slippery slope. You may support his expanded use of EOs now, but this may embolden future Presidents, who may not share your political beliefs, to do likewise. I don’t know where the line is legally; probably, even constitutional legal scholars would differ. However, common sense tells one that they should not be used to bypass Congress’ constitutional powers. After all, let’s not forget, our system of government is all about “checks and balances.”