The new year is a little more than a week old, but New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is already eyeing another gun-grabbing proposal for the 2020 legislative session in Albany.
Third-term Gov. Cuomo – already hinting at running for a fourth term in 2022 – recently announced his intention to usher through state legislation that would ban the sale of so-called “ghost gun” components to individuals who already cannot legally possess a firearm.
The governor should’ve learned from his previous disastrous N.Y. SAFE Act legislation and stopped there. But it seems Gov. Cuomo would prefer the New York taxpayer-funded legislature to spend time working on even more ineffective policies that would mostly turn law-abiding American citizens into criminals.
Call It Something Scary
The so-called “ghost guns,” and their unassembled components, require the purchase of necessary parts to be shipped to a buyer for assembly, under his proposal. Law-abiding citizens and gunsmiths regularly order parts to repair and rebuild their firearms on their own or their customers.
Some buy unfinished lower receivers and complete the fabrication. That’s legal in New York State as long as those parts comply with New York’s 2013 SAFE Act. That’s didn’t stop N.Y. Attorney General Letitia James from sending cease and desist letters to sellers last year attempting to stop the practice.
The governor, though, is attempting to circumvent all this by requiring serial numbers on nearly every component and part that comprises a finished firearm.
What’s more, Gov. Cuomo’s push appears to be based more on fallacy than fact. He chose to use scare tactics in his terminology and engaged in name-calling of law-abiding firearm owners. He also tries to paint a picture in the state of a so-called dramatic rise of “ghost gun” use and purchases, but failed to produce any data to back his claim.
One figure suggests the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office confiscated approximately 20 “ghost guns” in the past 21 months. That’s hardly the dramatic rise the governor would have you believe. What is fact is that home-built firearms have always been legal.
Cuomo’s first push at gun control, the N.Y. SAFE Act, was deeply flawed and rushed through the legislature in 2013. It has faced numerous legal challenges since. It’s widely panned as ineffective, and overly burdensome to small businesses from manufacturers to retailers, as well as to law enforcement and law-abiding citizens.
Now, the new “ghost gun” proposal appears to be just as burdensome and costly. This proposal presents a particular challenge to gunsmiths who repair firearms and replace worn or broken parts. Parts Gov. Cuomo wants serialized would have to be shipped and tracked through federal firearms licensees, complete with background checks and state registration requirements.
Once again, law-abiding citizens in New York see their governor target them with a legislative proposal that will not solve the issue, but would instead turn those who do follow the laws into criminals. It would also penalize hardworking small businesses and manufacturers in a state that’s near the bottom of the country in terms of business friendliness.
Gov. Cuomo should take note – his approval ratings reached a new low last year, and roughly 1 million New Yorkers have fled the state in the last decade. The governor would be wise to focus his efforts – and the valuable time of the legislature – on real solutions that would make life better for New Yorkers and not cause them to flee.
Gov. Cuomo’s “ghost gun” proposal represents yet another ill-considered solution in search of a problem that is simply is not there.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.