Gun Show a Test Case for New York's New Gun Control Laws

Monday, January 28, 2013

guns (Getty Images/Getty)

Earlier this month, New York became the first state to pass comprehensive gun control measures in the wake of December's tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Governor Andrew Cuomo quickly and passionately pushed the new law through New York's state legislature after the recent spat of deadly mass shootings. 

But that hasn't stopped gun owners from pursuing their passion in the Empire State. The annual NYS Arms Collector Trade show, which took place in Albany this Saturday, occupied the same convention center where Gov. Cuomo delivered his State of the State address earlier this month. Robert Lewis, reporter for Takeaway co-producer WNYC, heard reactions from gun owners just weeks after new gun control measures became law.

Al Cannon, the sheriff of Charleston County, South Carolina, says that he plans to not enforce gun laws he believes to be unconstitutional.


Al Cannon and Robert Lewis

Produced by:

Joe Hernandez

Comments [14]

unkerjay from Puget Sound, WA

How nice to know that instead of a reasoned discussion of what works or doesn't, the discussion is being channeled almost relentlessly in terms of the success or failure of gun control, almost relentlessly in terms of "you'll never take my guns away from me" vs a ban on assault weapons. And, there are some who PREFER THAT debate rather because of the end result, higher memberships, increased sales, more strident believers. Absolute failure or success resting on the ability to ban assault weapons or the ability to have whatever one wants in spite of ANY ban. A false feeling of security because of the successful enforcement of strict gun control laws. Stricter gun control laws in the wake of the last or the next incident of gun violence.

I don't own a gun. I'm not in favor of unrestricted ownership. Neither am I in favor of stricter gun control laws as the sole or primary means to the end.

But that serves no one's purpose. I am not the poster child for gun control and I am not the prime candidate for the NRA. I'm just someone who wants the violence to stop. Someone who doesn't care if it's AR15's, handguns, baseball bats or knives.

Strict gun control didn't stop Newtown, Arizona, Colorado. It doesn't stop the numerous acts of violence by handgun. It doesn't stop violence against women. It ALONE doesn't stop violence. New York has the strictest gun control laws in the nation. Great. Let them talk to the residents of Illinois, Detroit before them, D.C. pre Supreme Court decision and feel the warm security of strict gun control laws.

Any other suggestion ALONE won't stop violence.

Hip Hip Hooray strict gun control.

Us vs Them. Win / Lose. All so very adversarial.

They want to tell You how to live your life.

How about what does it take to make us safer? Not that THAT is absent SOME gun control or that that is / can be done in such a way as to respect the legitimate rights of gun owners to own guns without being considered an absolute assault on ownership. We will never get to a place where no matter how many guns people own, gun violence goes down. That's just not who we are. Changing who we are is climbing Mount Everest. It's the harder fight. Instead we have strings being pulled on either side. And the victims in the middle LOSE.

That's just entirely too irrelevant to this discussion.

Better to have your strings pulled, your buttons pushed coming out on the other side more contentious, combative and divided than ever.

Mission accomplished.

I feel so much better.

Jan. 28 2013 08:34 PM
Zack Guruma

I am an 84 year old GOP liberal. I still remember my HI SCHOOL fellow students that enjoyed bragging about how brave they were - guns & girls. Don't think this sheriff was a classmate....but how he sure likes to brag about taking on this government of ours ! Too bad NPR did not ask hime about his campaign funds. I guess we do have a national problem with sheriffs who need NRMA [NRManufacturersA] backing to keep their jobs.

Jan. 28 2013 07:32 PM
Molon Labe from Texas

Actually in response to RCUB_Alum's comment... Yes Sherrif's actually can choose what laws they want to enforce. It is up to them to determine which laws have priority with thier departments. So by saying they won't enforce any federal law on guns, they are well within thier right to do so. That being said, they can not legally interfere with federal agencies trying to enforce federal laws.

You are correct however that a Sheriff is not techically qualified to determine if a law is constitution or not. That is only up to the Supreme Court of the United States.

But again, if they don't want to enforce federal gun laws within thier county they don't have to. It is afterall thier county to protect and serve.

Jan. 28 2013 04:56 PM

This redneck Klown has become the very thing he fears most.


Jan. 28 2013 03:56 PM
RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey

Sheriffs do not get to decide which laws are constitutional. Sheriffs do not get to decide which laws they will enforce. Sheriffs that DO think they have the right to do any thing other than enforce the laws as written and work to get them changed where appropriate are autocrats and do not deserve to hold their office. Yes, are law enforcement officials and prosecutors make judgement calls all day long...they are more or less paid to decide what is and what is not over the line. But any official who starts his day by saying he KNOWS what is constitutional and what is not is acting above his pay grade and should not be on the public payroll.

Jan. 28 2013 03:54 PM
thatgirl from nyc

Throwing around inventive terms like "legislative intent" can't hide the fact that this "sheriff" hasn't two critical-thinking cells to rub together. Why give him airtime when his character is best suited for a re-make of the Dukes of Hazzard? Please don't waste air time on freaks like this.

Jan. 28 2013 03:52 PM
dboy from nyc

Who is this ignorant hillbilly??

Jan. 28 2013 03:48 PM
davie from new jersey

NY State should of waited for the Federal Guidelines before jumping into a bunch of new gun laws which has caused more consternation among many NY gun owners and has now spread around the nation.

Jan. 28 2013 03:28 PM
Seamus Alehaus from Upstate NY

I have been a Democrat for 39 years. I sadly admit that the Democratic Party is fundamentally hostile to guns and gun owners. I am registering independent. I don't own so-called "assault weapons". Because of that a friend said, "They're not coming after you". He is wrong. NY's law bans the sale of 10 round magazines, the state's previous limit. On April 15 only 7 round ones will be permitted for sale. The fact that every full sized pistol and every .22 rifle comes with a 10 round magazine and no manufacturer makess 7 round ones doesn't concern supporters of the law. Their answer is that manufacturers will have to start making 7 round ones. That is a business decision for manufacturers. If some don't it will be illegal for New Yorkers who own their products to buy parts for them. Current owners of 10 round magazines like those in my son's and my .22 hunting rifles can keep them but can only load 7. The penalty for loading one more by miscounting is a $200 fine at home and a misdemeanor punishible by prison, surrender of firearms and lifetime prohibition from owning them anywhere else except an official shooing range. The state background check to buy ammunition will keep track of our purchases and flag us for buying what officials consider high quanities. Target shooters who go through thousands of rounds a year and buy their ammunition in bulk to save cost worry about being listed as a possible threat. To avoid that many will buy their ammunition in Pennsylvania. $10 background checks for private firearm sales sounds good but gun stores are under no obligation to perform them. Since they will make practically nothing on them and they will take time from selling merchandise many will probably decline. Others will probably go out of business because the state made most of their merchandise illegal to sell. With fewer gun stores to perform background checks buyers may have to drive long distances to find one. Many will say it's not worth it to buy a $100 used shotgun. So much of this law is unfair and punitive to normal law abiding citizens. To call it "sensible" and "reasonable" is untrue. The only people who believe that are those who know nothing about guns, snobs who own expensive target guns holding 5 rounds or less and gun owners whose guns are unaffected, don't shoot much and don't care about the rights of other gun owners. Gun owners are the only citizens who are alone in caring about their rights. Non-gun owners are either hostile or indifferent. Non-gun owners think they are more civilized than us. They think America needs to become like most counties that have banned or severely restricted private ownership of firearms. They see us as a backward minority standing in the way of progress. Most insulting they say if we disagree with them we don't care about murdered children. They will no longer get my vote.

Jan. 28 2013 02:51 PM
Ed Goldberg from Portland, Oregon

Several sheriffs in Oregon have also decided not to enforce any laws which restrict rights under the Second Amendment. Admirable.
I expect that they will also cease to enforce laws on slander/libel, fraud, cross burning, or production of child pornography, all of which are unconscionable breaches of our First Amendment rights of free speech.
Save the Constitution!

Jan. 28 2013 01:55 PM
Racheal from Bend, Oregon

For current gun laws to be effective, our interdependent government agencies must have the same goal to prevent gun violence. The reason we've had gun tragedies are the breakdowns amongst communication between schools, mental health, law enforcement, and courts. If our country cannot enforce current policies, then I'm afraid gun tragedies will continue. A military assault weapons ban is the only affordable effective proposal.

Jan. 28 2013 01:50 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Imagine if large amounts of Moslem Americans started showing up at all these Gun shows and started buying guns.
Imagine if African Americans dressed in the latest "Gangsta" wear started going to Gun Shows in huge numbers across America.
"Imagine all the people" the Lennon lyric, would have a new meaning.

Psychologically, as a people, all Americans need to be tested.I don't think we are doing well.

Jan. 28 2013 12:20 PM

John Hockenberry's sarcastic disbelief in the position of Charleston County (SC) Sheriff Al Cannon was almost palpable.

Clearly, the hope and expectation of The Takeaway's producers (and perhaps Hockenberry as well) was that John would run circles around the rube from South Carolina and that the elite public radio audience would get a good laugh out of the fact that some yahoo in southern law enforcement was declining to "enforce the law."

I am just guessing, but I suspect that The Takeaway was fed this story from one of the most likely sources imaginable for the WNYC staff -- from their dear friends at MSNBC:

In any event, there is one good legal source to settle the question of whether Sheriff Cannon's position is one of a crackpot or one of a serious legal scholar. There is a clear answer to that question, although I wouldn't hazard a guess on the detailed fine points of whether Sheriff Cannon would be legally required to enforce any new federal laws, since no new federal laws have yet been passed on the subject of gun control.

But in Printz v. U.S., 521 U.S. 898 (1997), the Supreme Court of the United States held that certain provisions of the Brady Bill were unconstitutional, and the holding went SPECIFICALLY to the issue of whether local law enforcement officers were obligated to enforce federal background check provisions during an interim period while the federal government got its check system up and running.

So Sheriff Cannon has an excellent point about local law enforcement of federal directives on gun registation and background checks; a point that the sheriff earnestly tried to make but which was sneered at by Hockenberry. Now if legal advocates wish to argue that Sheriff Cannon's position is wrong, or that federal legislation that is currently pending is qualitatively different from issues raised under the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, that's fine. I don't propose to change minds about a highly technical point within federal jursidiction.

But this much is clear; Sheriff Cannon has a very good argument. And it is an argument that firearms-illiterate liberals aren't getting from MSNBC and pbulic radio.

Printz v. U.S., the Wikipedia page:

Printz v. U.S., the decsision (Google Scholar page):

Jan. 28 2013 12:18 PM
Hippo from USA

Quick response from N.Y Governor Cummo on gun control when Super Storm Sandy victims starving, Near homeless and freezing for 3 months now. Wonder where his stance on gifting Egypt our F-16 fighter Jets? Bet he applauded Clinton for saying, what does it matter!

Jan. 28 2013 08:44 AM

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