Friday, May 22, 2009


A Legislative Column by Assemblyman Dave Townsend (R,WF-Sylvan Beach)
Last week the New York Assembly voted on a number of measures designed to limit the individual freedoms of our state’s gun owners, unwittingly enhancing the ability of violent criminals to prey on our communities and outlawing safe firearms and ammunition based on dubious scientific and criminological evidence. Over ten bills dealing with firearms storage, rifle specifications, and “microstamping” technology were approved by the Democrat-controlled Assembly on Tuesday. In their appreciation for New Yorkers’ Second Amendment freedoms, these revisions to our gun laws were as flimsy as the paper on which they were drafted.
Though intended to reduce violence related to firearms, the 14 pieces of legislation my colleagues supported will in fact place arbitrary restrictions on law-abiding citizens and drastically reduce or, in some cases, eliminate, the sale of certain guns and ammunition in the Empire State. I appreciate Democrats attempting to take on an emotional issue with well-meaning legislation. Still, the fact remains: The way to reduce gun-related violence is to make a distinction between tolerable and intolerable acts, between lawbreaker and law-abiding citizen.
The series of bills approved by the Assembly instead blurs that distinction, treating crook and sportsmen with the same degree of suspicion. A family or individual has a right to self-defense. We unintentionally empower violent criminals when we take firearms out of the hands of responsible adults.
For example, new trigger rules approved by the Assembly would impose an unreasonable standard on firearms typically used for home protection. Smaller guns such as revolvers already have a 10-pound trigger-pull strength, making them virtually inaccessible to small children, and semi-automatics require that the slide be pulled before firing, a safety precaution intended to eliminate accidental firings. New legislation, however, would transform the design elements of a pistol or revolver to the point where not only children, but those with small hands, limited dexterity or limited strength, would experience difficulty if not outright futility in the gun’s operation. So-called “devastator” ammo would be outlawed under state law, owing to its “armor-piercing” nature. This is curious, since the frangible ammunition targeted by the Assembly Democrats is designed to disintegrate on impact – not exactly the sort of projectile that has any chance of breaking a ballistic vest’s breast-plate. Another measure would ban the use, sale, and possession of any rifle with a center-fire cartridge in .50 caliber or higher, even though no crime has ever been committed with this firearm in New York State and the gun remains popular among hunters and other sportsmen.

During my time in the Assembly, I have fought again and again for policies that cut crime rates and put dangerous criminals behind bars. I also received an A-minus from the National Rifle Association in its 2008 candidate grades. But these gun-law revisions, though perhaps well-meaning, will do almost nothing to keep our communities safe. I voted for our 2nd Amendment rights last Tuesday, and against this ill-conceived legislative agenda.


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