Jan. 17th, 2013

liamstliam: (Bear)

The short version here is that I am very concerned with the New York State Legislature’s rapid approval of a gun-control package.

I’ve said that it’s not the laws that concern me so much as the process did.

It’s not necessarily what they did. It’s how they did it.

In order to explain better, please understand that I am a fairly liberal, middle-aged white guy who does not own any guns but has no particularly strong opinion about gun control, other than it needs to be constitutional.

My thought on that is that it’s harder with the Second Amendment, in my opinion, in that it’s not a cut-and-dried as the First Amendment’s “Congress shall make no law . . . “ provision.

It seems to me that some of the things New York did and proposals the president put up the next day, will not survive court tests.

What did New York do?

It made it much easier to classify (and ban) a gun as an assault weapon. It made it illegal for a clip to hold more than seven rounds. It stiffened penalties for crimes using guns.

In addition, it mandated mental-health professionals to report individuals they feel could commit gun violence, and it forced anyone buying ammunition to register that purchase.

OK, we could argue some or all of those. Some, in my opinion are easier to argue against than others.

But the point here is how they did it.

The session started Monday afternoon, and before midnight, the Senate had voted 43-18 in favor of the bill. There was no debate, and the public never had a chance to see or comment on the bill.

The next day, the Assembly debated for five hours before approving it 104-43, and the governor signed the bill in time to make the 6 p.m. news.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo had declared “an emergency requiring the immediate waiver of the three-day waiting period before a vote.”

There was a concern, apparently, of protestors descending on the Capital if the Legislature didn’t get to act quickly.

Wait? People would not get to be heard?

People would not even be able to read the bill? How much time did senators have to read the bill?

People couldn’t contact their legislators with an opinion? (They already expressed their opinion, we were told. Well, I know I didn’t, though my legislators were at the front of the anti-bill movement because of the process.)

I remember well the stop-and-go, give-and-take over the same-gender marriage proposal. That was long and drawn-out, just as so many other bills have been.

Some folks have said, “Well, it was a good thing, so why worry?”

Well, they could do the same thing and vote to put casinos within 10 miles of my house. Or make major changes in school taxes. Or any of several other things.

We used to opine that New York law was made by “three guys in a room” 

This time it was “in the dead of night.”

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