New York’s Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo is feeling the heat for more than just his COVID scandal. He’s also dodging his citizens’ demands for reducing crime while at the same time denying them their Second Amendment rights.
Gov. Cuomo’s contempt for gun owners and the firearm industry dates back over two decades to his time as Housing and Urban Development Secretary for former President Bill Clinton and has continued throughout his tenure as New York’s top executive. Now he’s announced he’s eyeing a run for a fourth term next year.
But as New Yorkers face a spiking violent crime epidemic and severely limited gun rights due to Cuomo’s flawed, and ironically named, NY SAFE Act, New York’s top executive assuaged Empire State gun owners’ concerns with, “You figure it out!”
Public Safety Whiplash
New York City residents can’t be blamed for their heightened concerns about rising crime. Throughout 2020, looters, rioters and criminals demonstrated they aren’t worried about law enforcement or repercussions. In Gotham, violent criminals were already being released from prison early because of the coronavirus pandemic. Many were re-arrested quickly for committing new violent crimes.
That was on top of New York state’s bail reform law signed by Gov. Cuomo making it even easier for criminals to get an “out of jail” pass like a frequent customer card at a sandwich shop. All the while, law-abiding New York residents watched and paid the price again and again. Over 450 businesses were destroyed between mid-May and mid-June.
Finally, in June 2020, following months of escalating violence, New York City’s Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his plan to cut $1 billion from law enforcement’s budget. He proclaimed, “I’m excited to say we have a plan that can achieve real reform, that can achieve real redistribution…” Meanwhile, Gov. Cuomo sat on the sidelines of public safety.
Expect the Expected
It’s no surprise Gov. Cuomo failed to take action. His antigun record is clear on leaving New York gun owners high-and-dry when it comes to their rights and ability to protect themselves.
It began during his tenure as HUD Secretary for President Clinton when he organized a scheme to have 3,200 public housing authorities sue firearm manufacturers blaming them for crimes committed within those housing facilities. Congress put a stop to that farce, but it didn’t stop Gov. Cuomo’s crusade against the Second Amendment.
Fast forward to 2013 when Gov. Cuomo strongarmed his New York SAFE Act gun control scheme through Albany in the middle of the night, restricting New Yorkers’ ability to purchase and possess firearms. That policy has been challenged in the courts often, including the magazine capacity limit provision being struck down by a New York federal judge in 2013 and the law again being rebuffed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in 2015.
Most recently, Gov. Cuomo shuttered New York firearm businesses during the coronavirus pandemic, deeming 5,500 total jobs in New York “non-essential” even though the industry is built on supplying and supporting the fulfillment of the essential Second Amendment.
If there were any remaining doubt Gov. Cuomo holds a special disdain for the entire firearm industry, when Ilion, N.Y.-based Remington Arms offered the governor to reconfigure their manufacturing facility to supply much-needed personal protective equipment and ventilators to ease the early supply burdens during the COVID crisis, he didn’t even answer the call.
New Yorkers are now demanding answers on his nursing home scandal that cost thousands of lives.
Now, New Yorkers are experiencing whiplash of their rights, slashed law enforcement resources and top officials bickering about who is to blame for the public safety fiasco. Gov. Cuomo is doing his best to avoid any involvement as his constituents pay the price.
“All I’m saying to New York City is, you figure it out. You figure it out.” That was Gov. Cuomo’s response when asked about rising crime in New York City, the city’s previous cuts to law enforcement and subsequent rehiring of police to patrol the city’s metro system. They’re experiencing an especially violent crime wave, including gruesome crimes by someone dubbed, “The A-Train Ripper.”
While Gov. Cuomo continues to leave New Yorkers vulnerable to the heinous actions of violent criminals, more than 21 million Americans elsewhere went to the gun store and left with a purchase, over 8.4 million for the first time, feeling more secure.
Countless examples of gun owners using their firearms to protect their families, homes and businesses have been seen through the past year as gun ownership reached a record high among a historically diverse population, while public support for restricting Second Amendment rights has fallen to his lowest level in many years
Gov. Cuomo has repeatedly made victims of New York voters. His hollow promises and vacuous policies left New Yorkers vulnerable. His empty answers expose him for what he truly is – an ideologue who refuses to recognize the reality of his own failure and the harm he has caused.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.