The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, delivered a State of the State address on Wednesday that ran for over an hour, and ended with a hysterical, podium-pounding rant about gun control. At one point he promised he wasn’t interested in “taking away people’s guns,” but then he launched into some very energetic demands to do exactly that. As recounted by the New York Observer:
???Number 1: Enact the toughest assault weapon ban in the nation, period!??? he shouted, before ticking off his other new gun control proposals. ???Number two, close the private sale loophole by requiring federal background checks. Number three, ban high-capacity magazines. Number four, enact tougher penalties for illegal gun use, guns in school grounds and violent gangs. Number five, keep guns from people who are mentally ill. Number six, ban direct internet sales of ammunition in New York. Number seven, create a state [National Instant Criminal Background Check System] check on all ammunition purchases.???
Mr. Cuomo predicted the rest of the country will follow New York???s lead and adopt stiffer gun laws.
???New York State led the way on guns once before. It was the Sullivan???s law of 1911, which was the first-in-the-nation gun control law. A model law,??? he explained.
[…] ???I know that the issue of gun control is hard. I know that it???s political. I know it???s controversial,??? the governor said, his voice rising with every word. ???I say to you, forget the extremists! It???s simple: no one hunts with an assault rifle! No one needs 10 bullets to kill a deer! Too many innocent people have died already! End this madness now!???
By the end of the speech, the governor was shouting.
???Pass safe, reasonable gun control in the State of New York! Make this state safer! Save lives! Set an example for the rest of the nation! Let them look at New York and say, ???This is what you can do! This is what you should do!??? This is New York, the progressive capital, you should them how we lead! We can do it! We???ve done it before and we can do it again.???
He left the stage to deafening applause from the assembled lawmakers.
It’s a pity this is the part of the speech getting all the attention, because there was also an interesting passage where he declared that “New York has no future as the tax capital of the nation,” and fretted about high taxes driving away residents and business interests. But then he laid out a huge pile of “bold, liberal, and costly” ideas, as the New York Daily News put it, so there’s no more reason to take him seriously about fiscal responsibility than there is to treat Barack Obama like a deficit hawk:
There was a focus on red-meat issues for the left ??? gun control, equity for women and raising the minimum wage.
He renewed his call for a stronger abortion-rights law and decriminalizing small amounts of pot.
Many Republicans and even some Democrats shook their heads at his big-ticket proposals.
There was a costly plan for green businesses, $1 billion for affordable housing, and a push to let school districts extend their school days and school years.
How Cuomo would pay for his agenda was unclear; aides promised an answer in his upcoming budget plan.
???I can???t even fathom how much all this adds up to,??? Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn) groused.
Cuomo aides denied he has one eye on a presidential run.
They said the liberal issues are what???s left of an agenda Cuomo proposed when he won office in 2010 but couldn???t get through the GOP-controlled Senate.
Somehow the connection between all this big spending and New York’s identity as “tax capital of the nation” seems to have eluded Cuomo. Or, more likely, he’s hoping it will elude voters for a bit longer.
On the topic of gun control, however, the speech was a classic: disingenuous, profoundly ill-informed, contemptuous of the rights of ordinary citizens, and delivered in the style of a Third World rabble-rouser. Very little of what he proposed has anything to do with the Newtown massacre he’s using for political leverage, other than his plea for “keeping guns from people who are mentally ill.” New York already has a super-tough “assault weapons ban,” so railing about such weapons is pure grandstanding.
And the blithering stupidity of howling that “no one needs 10 bullets to kill a deer” gave the NRA material for some great advertising. The Second Amendment is not a hunting license; its exercise is not conditioned on using guns only for activities that tin-pot dictators personally enjoy and endorse. Innocent people will die if this mania for restricting magazine sizes is indulged. You might not need 10 bullets to kill a deer, but you absolutely could need 10 bullets to survive an exchange of fire with an armed criminal, take down a drug-fueled assailant in the heat of a violent encounter, or fend off multiple criminal attackers. A law-abiding citizen defending his family is arguably more likely to “need” 10 or more rounds than criminals, who can control and execute helpless victims just fine using revolvers, or knives for that matter. Cuomo’s armed bodyguards could be invited on stage at his next rally to explain all this.
If gun control is such an important issue, why does it have to be pushed with screaming theatrics, the panicked exploitation of tragedy, and nonsensical “arguments” like the one Cuomo offered? Very little wise legislation has ever been passed in a hurry. But the gun-control zealots are nervous about the dissipation of public support for gun control as cooler heads prevail, weeks after the Newtown shooting, so they’re making comically obvious efforts to artificially prolong the atmosphere of crisis. Cuomo’s rant is one example; Vice President Joe Biden’s ominous insinuation that President Obama might suspend the Bill of Rights through executive order is another. (I haven’t really paid much attention to Biden’s remarks thus far because, hey, it’s Joe Biden. He says a lot of things that aren’t true, or don’t make any sense. I don’t think it’s a good idea to have such a person as Vice President, but a working political coalition of voters went along with it. I’ll wait for the White House to announce something officially.)
A “right” is not something that politicans can take away because they disapprove of it, or even because they can persuade some percentage of voters to share their disapproval. It doesn’t matter if they shout their demands at high volume, or if they make reference to outrageous crimes. A “right” is not something that free citizens must hug in a perpetual defensive crouch, because criminals abuse it. If New York can’t secure the safety of its citizens with its high taxes and gigantic budget, maybe it’s time for Andrew Cuomo to think about cutting a few big-ticket items off his liberal wish list, rather than cutting into the liberty of his citizens in a doomed attempt to socially engineer them.