By Robert B. Young, MD
New York Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo is gaining a deserved reputation as a strong leader and effective communicator about the coronavirus crisis in New York state, which has been particularly bad in New York City. His daily live video updates are watched all over the country because of that, and the fact that the state and City are at the epicenter of infection in the United States.
But this is the same governor who on March 25 required nursing homes, the highest risk facilities for residents, to admit actively infected virus patients while saying “It’s not our job” to provide protective gear to them. Quoth Andrew: “That’s life!”
Then on May 15, he reversed the policy, along with instituting an investigation into what nursing homes did wrong—facilities that are not equipped to provide acute care and were far below hospitals on accessing personal protective equipment (PPE). Of course, on May 18 he proclaimed that this was all an outcome of nature: “Who can we prosecute for those deaths? Nobody.”
And the same governor who shut down his own state ethics commission in 2014 once he realized it was starting to investigate his own campaign and supporters.
Just like Rahm Emanuel, Cuomo “never let[s] a serious crisis go to waste . . . it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” In this crisis, his anti-gun stripes are blazing.
Cuomo’s politics on guns have been foul for years. Following on then-President Barack Obama’s critique that too many Americans “cling to their guns or religion”, Cuomo has made it clear that “extreme conservatives . . . have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.” Millions of upstate New Yorkers (that is, outside the NYC metro area and Albany) and gun owners disagree.
The opportunity he’s taking is to deprive New York of acutely needed help fighting the corona virus by treating gun owners and the firearms industry as pestilential themselves during this crisis.
Despite the Federal government defining all aspects of the firearm industry, from manufacture to retail, as “essential” business, Cuomo has kept New York’s firearms commerce shut down. Other states that have attempted this have been sued and, properly, had to reverse their closures of gun sales, ranges and manufacture. The National Rifle Association, with the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association is now suing New York state to accomplish the same thing. (This, at a time when incarcerated felons are being released due to coronavirus infection in the prisons.)
Cuomo will draw this out as long as he can and declare the question moot once New York must respond in court. Respecting the Second Amendment’s two and a quarter centuries’ existence has never been his style.
Less well known is that Cuomo did not even acknowledge an offer by Remington Arms in Ilion, New York (one of the nation’s oldest and largest firearms factories) to make any medical supplies needed to fight the virus that is decimating New York. Remington’s CEO, Ken D’Arcy, made this offer public on March 24. This was while everything from masks to sanitizer to hospital beds and ventilators are in desperate shortage, threatening to result in thousands of unnecessary deaths. To our knowledge, New York state government has never replied.
At the same time, the Governor was begging medical personnel to come work in the New York City area in order to make up for short hospital staffing in the face of the overwhelming acute care demands caused by the corona virus. Then on May 8 he annnounced that he intends to assess New York state income tax on these earnings by out-of-state temporary workers who responded to New York’s emergency. Indeed, crises reveal many ways for politicians like Andrew Cuomo to manipulate and take advantage of the good intentions of generous Americans, which he invited!
Which leads us to consider another New York state of mind. Governor Cuomo is proud to declaim that New York has “the strongest gun laws in the nation” every time he signs another harmful, restrictive gun bill into law. But, like the ghosting of Remington Arms’ generous offer, these are counter-productive if he truly wants all hands on deck to save New York lives.
All of New York state is may-issue even to own a handgun, let alone carry one, but New York City’s laws are draconian, making it virtually impossible to obtain the necessary NYC permit (even for other New York residents). New York refuses to recognize any other states’ pistol permits as valid, at the same time declining to offer non-resident permits.
As a concealed carry licensed New York resident, why would I want to go into what has been described as a “war zone” newly disarmed? At least 25,000 out-of-state medical professionals had volunteered by early April to come help out New York City hospitals (and 65,000 from within New York state). How many were dissuaded on discovering they would not be allowed to protect themselves as at home? How many did not understand the legal risks they face by bringing their firearms with them here, as they are accustomed to everywhere else?
Yes, with crises come opportunities to create change for the better. But in New York state today, led by Andrew Cuomo, many opportunities created by this crisis are also being corrupted.
Robert B. Young, MD is a psychiatrist practicing in Pittsford, NY, an associate clinical professor at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, and a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.
This article was originally published at drgo.us and is reprinted here with permission.