Conservative

Stikkel: Cuomo’s gun control measures should be stopped; implemented restrictions are arbitrary

On Feb. 9, alongside a statue of George Washington, thousands of Second Amendment advocates faced the New York State Capitol in protest of the gun control legislation signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

After Cuomo signed the freedom-limiting NY SAFE Act, his approval rating in the Quinnipiac University poll fell from 74 percent to 59 percent — as it should. Cuomo advocated for this law during his State of the State address, saying, “We must stop the madness.”

Supporters of individual rights agree: Cuomo’s gun control policies are madness, and they must be stopped.

The NY SAFE Act is arbitrary, illogical political gamesmanship that offers no guarantee of safety and violates the notion of individual liberty.

For example, the law makes so-called “assault weapons” illegal for purchase, sale or new ownership within New York. All previously owned “assault weapons” are illegal unless registered.

According to the law, “assault weapons” include any semi-automatic rifle that accepts a detachable magazine and has at least one of the following: a folding or telescoping stock, a pistol grip protruding “conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon,” thumbhole stock, second handgrip, bayonet mount, flash suppressor, muzzle break, muzzle compensator or threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor, muzzle break or muzzle compensator.

Rifle violence was all but nonexistent in New York prior to these restrictions. Hence, these restrictions are arbitrary.

In 2011, 774 murders took place in New York, but only five — less than one percent of all murders — were committed with rifles, according to FBI crime data.

In fact, more New Yorkers were murdered with hands, fists and feet than with rifles and shotguns combined, according to FBI data — yet Cuomo’s legislation also includes shotgun restrictions. These restrictions might be a product of anti-gun bias, but they are certainly not a product of data.

Rifles are hardly used for murder. Hence, claiming these rifle restrictions do a great deal for future public safety is illogical.

Considering the Brady Campaign’s “Ban Assault Weapons” scores for California and Texas, and the states’ respective mass shooting numbers, the claim that “assault weapon” bans limit mass shootings is questionable.

California scores the maximum 10 “Ban Assault Weapons” points and Texas scores zero, yet since 2005, Californians sustained 51 mass shootings and Texans only 27, according to The Brady Campaign.

Even scaled for 2010 populations, California exceeded Texas in mass shootings per capita. Therefore, the data offers no guarantees regarding “assault weapon” bans and mass shooting reduction, and elected officials such as Cuomo should make no such guarantees.

Cuomo tells us that “no one hunts with an assault rifle” and “no one needs 10 bullets to kill a deer.” He ignores the spirit of the Bill of Rights.

The Second Amendment — like each in the Bill of Rights — is a check on government; the type of weapons people use to hunt is irrelevant. Our rights are not guaranteed on the basis of need.

If government is free to determine who needs how much of what rights, we have no protection.

The public should never accept justification for limiting the rights of all based on the unscrupulous actions of a few, or even many.

The Roman statesman Cicero once said, “We are all servants of the law in order that we may be free.” Following this, if individual liberties are ever stripped from individuals outside of those who have violated the law, we cease to be free.

Michael Stikkel is a junior computer engineering major and MBA candidate in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at mcstikke@syr.edu.

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