Three-term New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo recently bemoaned President Donald Trump’s leadership during the coronavirus pandemic, stating “We don’t have a king in this country. We didn’t want a king, so we have a Constitution and we elect a president.”
Perhaps “the Guv” should look in the mirror before opening his mouth.
Gov. Cuomo has used his daily time in front of press conference bright lights to knock the president. But he has his own king-like history of overstepping as the Empire State’s top elected official. That’s especially true now during the pandemic, and especially when it comes to the Second Amendment and the Constitutional rights of New Yorkers.
Shutters Gun Stores, Shuts Them Out
One of Gov. Cuomo’s earliest actions to combat the spread of coronavirus in New York included shuttering hundreds of firearm manufacturers and retailers by deeming them “non-essential,” despite the fact that the Department of Homeland Security specifically included gun stores and those workers as “essential” in its guidance.
The firearm and ammunition industry in New York has a significant footprint with 5,500 jobs generating $1.44 billion in economic impact. Across the nation, that figure is more than 330,000 jobs and $60 billion in economic impact. But Gov. Cuomo didn’t think twice, instead using his authority to close them down. It’s no wonder he ranks among the least popular governors in America.
What’s worse than unnecessarily leaving thousands of New Yorkers in the lurch? How about refusing their offer to help save the lives of their neighbors? Nope. King Cuomo couldn’t be bothered to even respond.
It’s not surprising. This is the same governor who despises pro-Second Amendment, law-abiding Americans, infamously mocking “Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are…pro-assault-weapon…? Because if that’s who they are…they have no place in the state of New York….”
Long Anti-Gun Track Record
Gov. Cuomo’s disdain for the Second Amendment is deep and his king-like anti-gun record is long. Most notably he utilized the “never let a crisis go to waste” mantra and forced New York’s infamous gun-rights-restricting New York SAFE Act through in the middle of the night, the most restrictive antigun law in the country.
It includes limits on magazine capacity that was too far even for a federal judge in New York who struck down the provision in 2013, and Gov. Cuomo was again denied by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in 2015. His SAFE Act also included red flag laws that deny due process and bans on America’s most popular-selling centerfire rifle – the modern sporting rifle.
Second Amendment rights groups across the state roundly disapproved. But once again, Gov. Cuomo displayed his animosity to the legal process and protecting the Constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners, stating “You become sort of lawsuit immune,” when challenged on his order shuttering firearm businesses.
Even Gov. Cuomo’s neighbor to the south recognized the limits to his executive authority. New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said he “wasn’t thinking of the Bill of Rights,” when he initially shut down gun stores, before relenting when faced with a lawsuit.
But Gov. Cuomo’s antigun bona fides trace back to his time as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development during the Clinton administration where he threatened to have over 3,200 public housing authorities sue members of the firearm industry for crime committed in those housing projects. Congress quickly put a stop to his threatened litigation.
He also violated antitrust law in 2000 by conspiring with several big city mayors to politicize law enforcement purchasing by collectively refusing to buy from any handgun manufacturer that didn’t signed a so-called “code of conduct” that sought to implement gun control that Congress would never pass. NSSF sued Cuomo and his allies in federal court prompting putting a stop to their illegal antitrust conspiracy.
Twenty-five years ago, New York’s venerated Republican U.S. Congressman Gerald B. Solomon took to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives and boomed in support of law-abiding gun owners. Now more than ever America needs more of that – and Gov. Cuomo should take notice while running for a fourth term.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.