New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has tried to “fix” the anti-gun New York SAFE Act on several occasions, but all he has really done is ensure that the law will be a major issue in New York’s elections next year. The governor’s most recent attempt to “fix” the legislation has been greeted with scorn and derision from Second Amendment supporters and opponents alike. And media, especially outlets outside of New York City, are filled with criticisms of the governor and the bumbling bureaucratic mess that is the SAFE Act.
The latest round of editorials and opinion pieces have a common theme: Cuomo, in signing a “Memorandum of Understanding” with Republican leadership in the state Senate, had hoped to defuse some of the continued disapproval of the law. Instead, by reaching some sort of “understanding” about the SAFE Act (what the MOU actually does is still largely a matter of who is explaining it) that doesn’t involve any actual legislative changes, the governor has ticked off members of his own party in the legislature, voters who are fed up with back-room deals and a lack of transparency, gun owners who want repeal, and anti-gun activists who don’t want to be seen as retreating on the legislation.
In fact, Cuomo’s moves in Albany led to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio lashing out at the governor, telling the press, “We just can’t go backwards” on gun control. Never mind that the law is so flawed that major portions of it—like the magazine limit of seven rounds and the requirement for background checks on every ammunition purchase—can’t be implemented. Never mind the fact that shootings are up in NYC since the SAFE Act became law.
Admitting the SAFE Act is fundamentally flawed is not the same thing as admitting that the ideas behind the law are also fundamentally wrongheaded, but it’s close enough that the ardent anti-gun voices in the state of New York would rather pretend the law is working just great. Instead, Cuomo’s Memorandum of Understanding has once again highlighted all the problems with the idea and the execution of the SAFE Act, which is the last thing the anti-gunners want heading in to an election year.
Cuomo will undoubtedly try to tout the “success” of the SAFE Act on the campaign trail, perhaps even pointing out his “flexibility” in reshaping the law without the need for an actual legislative fix or repeal. He’s likely to find a warm reception for his message in New York City, but throughout much of the state, where “Repeal the NY SAFE Act” signs can still be seen in yards and on car bumpers, that talk is likely to fall on deaf ears. Voters across New York might just deliver a Memorandum of Understanding of their own to Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers next year: Repeal the SAFE Act, or look for a new job.