New York: YES!

While the Congress of the United States prepares for what the NRA calls “the battle of the century” over gun control, the legislatures in the “blue” states try to do the right thing on their own. The “red” states, of course, are passing bills to allow teachers to carry guns to class with them, but the blue states are taking the high road. New York recently passed a tough gun control bill as the following article attests:

New York (CNN) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo beefed up New York’s gun-control laws on Tuesday by signing into law a new package of firearm and mental health regulations that mark the nation’s first since last month’s massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

Cuomo, a self-described gun owner, said the December 14 tragedy spurred lawmakers to action and called it a “common sense” measure before enacting what are widely seen as America’s toughest gun laws.

“You can overpower the extremists with intelligence and common sense,” he said before inking the deal in Albany.

There are two things about this signing that I find particularly interesting. For one, Cuomo is a gun owner and yet he sees the wisdom in taking a restrained approach to gun purchase. After all, gun control is about control, not elimination. The bloat and rhetoric that comes from the political right on this issue is positively galling, especially the NRA’s most recent personal attack against the President and any who would have the audacity to try to interfere with our “Second Amendment rights.” I have never heard anyone talk about taking guns away from people — especially hunting and target weapons. The movement here is to eliminate the purchase of weapons of mass destruction, if you will, assault weapons that fire off hundreds of rounds a minute and are designed to kill people, not deer or pheasants.

The second interesting thing is that Cuomo’s appeal is to “intelligence and common sense,” and he is spot on. There is so much heat and so little light in the “debate” over tougher gun control it is refreshing to read that a group has sat down and put together a bill that is designed to introduce sanity into a situation that borders on the insane. Clearly gun control will not solve the problem of violence in this country, but it is a necessary first step.

As you may have read, while Cuomo was signing this bill conspiracy theorists were harassing good Samaritans in Connecticut whose hearts went out to the children who survived the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut as we are told in the following story:

A man who found six children in his driveway in Newtown, Conn., after their teacher had been shot and killed in last month’s school massacre has become the target of conspiracy theorists who believe the shootings were staged.

One wonders what makes people like this tick when they write hate notes and repeatedly phone and then hang up on a 69 year-old retired man whose crime was that he reached out to help a group of youngsters who were traumatized by the shooting in their school. The very idea that the shooting itself was somehow “staged” in order to allow the government to take steps to restrict future purchase of assault weapons is over the edge and would require Freud working together with Adler and Jung to figure out how on earth those minds came so badly unhinged. One can only hope that the number of these nutters is very small and is dwarfed by the numbers of people whose hearts went out to those children and their families. I expect that is the case.

In any event, despite the fact that the Congress seems unable to enact legislation that would offend the NRA, states like New York have shown how it could be done. It won’t be nearly as effective as a Federal policy, but it is a step in the right direction.