State’s gun-control proposals are egregious

To the Editor:

I have been hesitant to write this letter. I have not been very comfortable with the idea of airing my opinions so publicly. However, the egregiousness of the multiple gun-control proposals that are soon to come before the state legislature now outweigh these misgivings.

Two of the multiple gun-control proposals before the state legislature are: a measure that would require a mental-health check prior to the purchase of any firearm, and the requirement that all component parts of a firearm have a serial number from the manufacturer.

While I have no doubt that these proposals are likely well intentioned, I dispute the real-world practicality of the measures, and I fear the effect that they will have on the civil liberties of the citizens of this state.  It would set a dangerous precedent to allow the state to deny access to a civil right on the basis of a state-administered subjective screening.

The Brady Act has already prohibited those declared mentally ill from possessing a firearm since 1993, and greater reporting to the National Instant Background Check System would allow for better screening of those who are prohibited from owning a firearm. I would note that thus far the state legislature and governor have done nothing to fix the underreporting to the NICS system.

I also fear that those who are in need or would benefit from mental-health services or counseling may not seek these services for fear of losing the ability to own a firearm. Given the controversial nature of firearms’ ownership, it is entirely foreseeable that one could be denied access to their 2nd Amendment rights due to the beliefs of the person giving the exam.

I also doubt that many doctors would like to have this political hot potato land in their lap, and are not in the business of determining if a person should have a right stripped from them. Aside from that, it is simply insulting to insinuate that you must be a nut to want to own a firearm in the first place.

As alarming is a proposal that the governor states is aimed at “ghost guns.” While this name certainly sounds intimidating, it is nothing more than fear mongering.

Forgive the technical explanation, but what he is speaking of is an 80-percent completed lower receiver for an AR-15. Essentially it is a hunk of metal that can be completed to make a component part that happens to bear the serial number on a factory-completed firearm.

While there are a myriad of reasons someone would have for purchasing one, and we could debate the merits of requiring them to be subject to a background check, the truth is that they are not untraceable as the lower receiver has nothing to do with the actual firing of the gun. Each gun leaves its own unique imprint on a cartridge when fired, including these dreaded “ghost guns.” 

Worse yet, the proposed legislation would make it impossible for gun owners or gunsmiths to get replacements for broken or worn-out parts. The law would require that all components to a firearm be serialized.

However, manufacturers do not serialize all parts on a firearm, and would not start doing so for the sake of New York gun owners. This could create a dangerous situation for a gun owner shooting a firearm with worn parts that he is unable to replace due to this legislation. Additionally, collectors of historic or no-longer-manufactured firearms would not be able to replace broken or worn parts.

As if this couldn’t get worse, these proposals are likely to be tacked on to a spending bill or other piece of legislation or passed in an emergency session so as to stifle public debate in a similar fashion to how the SAFE [Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement] Act was passed in 2013.

This abuse of the legislative process threatens the legitimacy of the legislature and undermines the democratic process of the state government. I encourage the reader to look into these proposals for themselves, and to write to their representatives.

As Benjamin Franklin said: “Those who would give up freedom for security deserve neither, and will lose both.” I fear that in New York we are learning this lesson the hard way.  

Stephen McCarthy

New Scotland

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