Very quietly and with no fanfare, the state of New York has suspended a plan to require background checks for ammunition sales.
The information was dumped on the media on a Friday afternoon with a “memorandum of understanding” between Governor Cuomo and Republicans in the state senate. Apparently, the reason for the suspension is that the technology to make the program work doesn’t exist yet and “cannot be established and/or function in the manner originally intended at this time.”
You would think someone would have mentioned that to the governor before the law was passed.
The provision was part of a sweeping gun control bill called the Safe Act, which included a ban on certain “assault” weapons and high-capacity magazines, while making it harder for the mentally ill to purchase a gun.
The document was signed by the governor’s director of state operations, Jim Malatras, and the Senate majority leader, John J. Flanagan of Long Island. “This is a clear victory for Second Amendment rights in New York,” said Senator James L. Seward, a Republican from Otsego County, who was one of a number of Republican senators who publicized the agreement.
James J. Baker, an official with the lobbying arm of the National Rifle Association, called the memorandum “a step in the right direction to restore a degree of sanity after the Safe Act’s over-the-top demonization of lawful New York gun owners.”
Democrats in the Legislature criticized the agreement. The Assembly speaker, Carl E. Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, said it was “an ill-advised end run around the Legislature and the Safe Act.”
“I did not participate in this ‘agreement’,” he said. “The law may not be ‘suspended’ by a memorandum such as this. I believe the law should be followed and implemented as intended.” A spokesman for the Senate Democrats, Mike Murphy, called the agreement “outrageous.”
“On first read, this appears blatantly unconstitutional,” said Senator Michael N. Gianaris of Queens, the deputy minority leader. “The notion that one house of the Legislature will have greater powers than another, and the governor, with one house only, can agree to change state law, turns our democracy on its head.”
Mr. Cuomo’s office sought to downplay the significance of the agreement. Alphonso B. David, the governor’s counsel, said that all portions of the Safe Act remained in effect.
The memorandum, he said, “has no power or effect on the law,” but “provides assurances to all that the database will not be implemented until it is ready and tested.”
How anyone thought that a background check on someone purchasing ammunition would keep a criminal from buying bullets is a mystery. It’s part of the absurd thinking among gun control advocates that can’t differentiate between law abiding citizens and criminals. It would have placed a burden on gun owners without affecting criminals in the slightest.
Note that Cuomo did not say that the measure was permanently shelved, so they will keep working on the technical requirements until they get it right, or a saner state legislature comes along to repeal it.