THE RIGHT SIDE
BY BUDD SCHROEDER
MARCH 15, 2017
IS DUE PROCESS A LOST CAUSE?
The SAFE act is once more generating news. There is a bill is in both the Senate and the Assembly to make a change, not in wording, but in geography. The bill proposes that the law is limited to New York City and those in Upstate New York are not affected by it. It is similar to the way the Sullivan Bill works on handgun possession. Two different sets of rules on gun ownership.
From the recent news about the criminal misuse of handguns in Buffalo and the increase in homicides since the law was passed, it would indicate that it isn't working to cut deaths by criminals using guns. The answer is actually pretty simple. Criminals don't obey laws and the good people don't need to have their rights infringed. They definitely are not a problem.
The law does nothing to keep criminals from getting guns anymore than the drug ban keeps addicts from getting heroin. However, in politics perception is reality. So, if enough people are conned into believing the law will reduce violence, the politicians without scruples will vote for it. The whole motivation is votes and reelection. In New York City the attitude regarding guns is much different than it is upstate.
The upstate gun owners are used to having guns for hunting and target shooting as well as believing they have the right to self-defense and wish to be able to have a viable means to do it. New York City has a contingent of politicians who try, and often succeed in convincing the voters that the government will take care of them.
The legislative power is in the Assembly and there are enough Democrat votes Southeast of the Tappan Zee Bridge to pass any bill and to even override a veto. The power is there and naturally, that is the house with the most abuse. What the Democrats want, the Democrats get. They wanted more gun control and they got it.
Now that there has been a long enough period to see it doesn't work, there I a huge effort to get the law repealed. That won't happen, so since politics is the art of compromise, this bill is offered. The people in New York City get a law they want and the people in upstate get rid of one they don't want.
The SAFE law makes it impossible for the Amish to buy a gun because of the universal background check. It requires a photo ID to get the NICS background check and the Amish religion forbids the photo taking. Therefore they are denied the ability to legally purchase a gun. The Amish are known to be a very law abiding, peaceable and non-violent society. We wonder why the politicians don't want them to have guns.
Another problem with the law is that on only a report, a person can lose four Constitutional and civil rights. The big problem is that they can lose these righs without due process. A false report from a hospital or from a doctor, nurse or social worker saying thet believe the person is a danger to themselves or others. can cause the loss of Second Amendment rights. They don't need the intervention by a psychiatrist or parapsychologist and there is no hearing to challenge the report. That is a very significant problem.
SCOPE (Shooters Committee On Political Education) initiated a law case on this issue. It is called Montgomery v. Cuomo and has been languishing with delays caused by the state. This is an indication that they are not optimistic about winning and hope that the plaintiffs will give up. The plaintiffs are waiting for the SCOTUS to be filled soon in case the lawsuit has to go that far.
It is simple to determine from an outside viewpoint. The fact that due process is in the Bill of Rights and also in an amendment to the Constitution should be reason enough to repeal at least that part of the bill. Nobody should be denied any rights without due process, but the State of New York believes that they should be able to override the Constitution. It would seem that the legislators who voted for the bill have the same opinion.
When the new bill comes out of committee, it will be interesting to see how the Assembly Speaker prevents it from coming to the floor to be debated. The Assembly has a tradition that no bill gets debated unless the Speaker approves it and he wants it to pass. It is a New York City passion that only their approval of any bill should get consideration. This also opens the door for back door deals in order for upstate legislators to get any of their bills passed. Good old Quid Pro Quo.
How far this will go remains to be seen. The odds are that it won't get out of the Assembly committees although it has a chance in the Senate. There are many one house bills that are used to help legislators in their reelection campaign. They can tell their constituents that they tried, but the other party was responsible for it failing. Just another campaign strategy.
From the time of Tammany Hall, the Albany legislature had been an inspiration for the TV show “Let's Make A Deal.” Politicians have been known to be arrested, prosecuted and convicted of corruption. It would seem the rewards outweigh the risks. If there is to be any chance of this bill passing, there will have to be a huge input from the upstate gun owners to gain the necessary activity to pass this bill.
This is not only a bill to strengthen ther Second Amendment, but really could be a victory for those who believe that everyone deserves due process and justice. Neither one is in the SAFE act.