The Corner

Cuomo’s Office Confuses Enforcement of SAFE Act with Success of SAFE Act

From CBS New York, a spectacular example of the wooly thinking of the “do something!” Left. In a piece titled “Tougher N.Y. Gun Laws Result In 1,146 Felony Charges,” CBS reports that:

Nearly a year after passage of New York state’s new gun law, dealer sales of popular AR-15 semi-automatic rifles have ended in New York and arrest data show more than 1,000 gun possession charges in New York City were boosted from misdemeanors to felonies because of the changes.

Meanwhile, 59 people have been charged statewide with misdemeanors for possessing large-capacity magazines or having more than seven bullets loaded in a magazine, both outlawed by the law passed last January in the aftermath of the school massacre in Newtown, Conn.

The report from the Division of Criminal Justice Services shows only one person charged with the illegal sale or transfer of a gun defined as an assault weapon as of mid-December. The new law tightened that definition to include AR-15s. Owners may keep their older weapons but must register them by April 15.

For Andrew Cuomo’s office, this is a sign that the SAFE Act is working:

 “The numbers are indisputable. The SAFE Act has enabled the state to better protect New Yorkers,” said Melissa DeRosa, spokeswoman for Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He pushed the legislation shortly after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 20 first-graders and six educators dead. Police said the 20-year-old gunman used a semi-automatic rifle and 30-round magazines.

How, pray, has the law “enabled the state to better protect New Yorkers”? Were there fewer shootings this year? Were there fewer murders? If so, can these be linked to the laws that were passed? We’ll never know, because there were no crime statistics cited. 

What has actually happened here is that more people have been arrested for breaking the new laws. Indeed, one would expect this to be the case. If you make something illegal, you will almost certainly be able to prosecute more people than you did before it was illegal. If you change a crime from a misdemeanor to a felony, you’ll be able to charge people who commit that crime with a felony and not a misdemeanor. This isn’t difficult.

The only statistics that the article cites are these:

The DCJS data from arrests and arraignments statewide showed 1,291 charges under the new gun law, with 1,155 for felony firearm possession, formerly just a misdemeanor, and 1,041 of the cases in New York City, mostly in Brooklyn and the Bronx. The new felony took effect in March, elevating the charge and penalty for illegal possession of a firearm.

Separately, 17,751 people have been charged so far this year with misdemeanor weapon possession, almost 90 percent in New York City, comparable to last year’s 19,089 yearlong total before the law changed. The misdemeanor charge includes other weapons like switchblades, blackjacks and brass knuckles.

Again, all this shows is that people are being prosecuted in different ways for doing what they were before. It doesn’t show that anyone is safer. It doesn’t show that there have been fewer shootings, fewer murders, or fewer violent crimes. It doesn’t show that Andrew Cuomo is anything more than an attention-seeking fool. All it shows is that the government is capable of turning 59 citizens into felons for behaving in a way that, last year, was legal, and that changing the manner in which people are punished for owning firearms makes the Left feel warm and fuzzy.


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