North Country newspapers blast gun control measure

Governor Cuomo signs the gun control measure this week. (Photo: Karen Dewitt)

This week, North Country lawmakers generally panned Governor Andrew Cuomo’s gun control measure.

The mood among editorial writers in our region hasn’t been much friendlier.

The Glens Falls Post Star uncorked a doozy on the governor, accusing him of “an obvious misuse of power” and arguing that the paper’s readers should be “mad as hell about how this governor does business and not want to take it anymore.”

The Watertown Daily Times, meanwhile, focused its criticism on just one provision of the law, a change actually favored by many gun rights activists that would limit public access to gun permit records.

“Pistol permit data has always been accessible and available, and there is no justifiable reason for restricting it now,” the newspaper wrote.  “The Legislature should revisit the law and remove the provisions closing off the public record.”

Somewhat surprisingly, the Albany Times-Union also tucked into the governor for pushing through the measure so swiftly, with little time for public review or debate.

But the way this bill was rammed through — introduced, passed and signed in barely 24 hours — violated the transparency Mr. Cuomo talks so much of and which was so clearly needed on a bill of this scope and complexity.

This is not just a philosophical argument about open government. There are real concerns about this bill, and we say that as ardent supporters of its overall intent.

The Plattsburgh Press-Republican hasn’t published an essay on the new gun control measure, or the process which led to its passage.  In an essay published in early January, the paper seemed to embrace regulations roughly along the lines adopted.

“Ban automatic weapons and make qualification for any gun ownership rigorous and easily traceable,” the P-R argued.  “Make it simple to account for all guns sold.”

Indeed, the general consensus among Upstate and North Country newspapers appears to be that the gun control measure includes good provisions, but was pushed through in a way that short-circuited healthy democratic debate.

What’s your view on this?  Is this a good law that got made ugly?  A bad law that was produced by a flawed system?  A bill that had to be pushed through quickly to avoid the Albany morass?




77 Comments on “North Country newspapers blast gun control measure”

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  1. JDM says:

    A bill that had to be pushed through quickly to avoid the Albany morass?

    So much for democratic ideals.

    Is this the next step in our evolution?

  2. PNElba says:

    JDM –

    Maybe a poor choice of words. You don’t accept the theory of evolution.

  3. Michael Greer says:

    I don’t understand what all the whining is about. The Governor’s bill is hardly an extremist proposal, and the speed with which it was put together simply avoided that “soup made by too many chefs” problem.
    The “morass” in Albany isn’t caused by our cumbersome legislative process; it’s caused by hundreds or even thousands of lobbyists, and the money that puts them to work.

  4. Rancid Crabtree says:

    It’s a travesty in many respects. No time for public comment is the largest issue IMO, this is old style Albany politics. Then there is the whole issue of ambiguous rules that turn guns which are not in any way even remotely considered assault weapons into illegal firearms. The whole lack of common sense in the labeling of magazines as weapons is also an issue as are some of the storage requirements which directly conflict with some provisions of the recent Heller decision by the SCOTUS. Overall it’s a very, very poorly written law that has multiple holes in it that will create as many problems as it hopes to address. Already the state has discovered they just outlawed 90% of the handguns, rifles and shotguns carried by our police!

    But the important thing is that Andy looks like a hero to his liberal base and that will play well in his Presidential bid.

  5. Gary says:

    Bill Owen’s has it correct, We need to avoid a knee jerk reaction. This law is nothing more than a feel good knee jerk reaction!

  6. The Original Larry says:

    The Post-Star had it right. Cuomo is misusing his power, has done so on many occasions and shows no signs of slowing down. The sheep follow blindly because, after all, he’s getting things done. There are no easy answers or short-cuts in democracy.

  7. JDM says:

    JDM –

    “Maybe a poor choice of words. You don’t accept the theory of evolution.”

    I was asking the question to those who do. Is this the next best hope?

  8. Peter Hahn says:

    (most of) The people demanding that we take our time and have lots of citizen comment (e.g. Rancid) are people who dont want the law. That presumably is because the minority who are opposed to the law are much more passionately against it than the large majority who favor it. This is an important issue to many people today, but in a month or two, other issues will take front burner. It is not a perfect law and at best it is a step in the right direction (as Mayor Bloomberg said), important as symbolism more than anything else.

    But I dont see how it effects the North Country one way or the other very much.

  9. Gary says:

    Peter, not true. Many aspects of the law will create problems. Problems that could have been avoid by getting input. Example: any rifle with a pistol grip is banned, some black powder rifles have a thumb hole to allow for a steady safe grip. My guess is if people were allowed to respond to the proposed law this would have been pointed out.

  10. dave says:

    The governor, that we elected, signed a bill that was approved by the Legislature, that we elected.

    Democracy in action.

    Anyone who thinks otherwise either doesn’t understand what democracy is, or just doesn’t like the outcome.

  11. mervel says:

    In the abstract I am basically for gun rights against registration and for limits on military style weapons. So I should be kind of against this bill, but I just don’t care that much, I can’t muster the indignation. In some ways I respect Prince Andrew and his political style. The guy is getting things done in a really crazy place, even when I don’t really agree with him.

  12. Pete Klein says:

    First, I couldn’t care less about editorials in newspapers. Like they are gods of wisdom or something?
    Sometimes it really looks like editorials are playing to the base of who they think their readers are.
    As to the speed, if you don’t like speed, I guess you love the speed at which the US Congress gets its work done. Now there is a bunch of productive debaters.

  13. Jim Bullard says:

    Records of pistol licenses should remain public but, absent some compelling reason, newspapers should not be allowed to publish wholesale lists of all license holders like the newspaper downstate did. That sort of action can result in more public harm than good.

    Saying you can only put 7 rounds in a standard 10 round magazine is (IMO) just silly. I can see the banning of larger magazines but are we really go to count the bullets in every 10 round magazine. Get real.

    The real problem is to eliminate the loopholes that allow people to bypass the background check and I believe that all weapons should be registered. Unless they are we’ll never keep them out of the hands of people who are prone to using them inappropriately.

    We cannot, I repeat, CANNOT create a law which will stop every potential mass killer but we cannot do anything perfectly. That is not a reason to do nothing. It is better to attempt something good and fail than to attempt to do nothing and succeed.

  14. Kathy says:

    If Gov. Cuomo is misusing his power, that is not “democracy in action”.

    The government is not getting smaller but larger and the system of checks and balances seems to be more and more irrelevant.

  15. PNElba says:

    Thanks to one of Obama’s fascist executive orders, CDC will now start to research gun violence.

  16. mervel says:

    I have not read the bill.

    But is every box of shotgun shells sold now going to be tracked?

  17. dave says:

    “If Gov. Cuomo is misusing his power, that is not “democracy in action”.”

    The governor proposed a bill, the legislature considered it, it was voted on by representatives of every district, it was approved by a substantial majority, it was signed into law by the governor.

    That is textbook democracy. Democracy 101. When you learn in grade school how our system of government works, that right there is what you learn.

    This was about as clean an example of our democracy in action as you are likely to see.

  18. Paul says:

    So we should only have public opinion when the project has something like a potential environmental impact? If it is just something to do with constitutional rights we should skip it. No matter what side of this you are on that seems ridiculous to me.

  19. Paul says:

    “Thanks to one of Obama’s fascist executive orders, CDC will now start to research gun violence.”

    Assuming sarcasm I totally agree that this was a stupid ban.

    Also, now that we have passed this law and have some federal proposals on the table we will do some research to see what causes the problem that we have already tried to solve or are in the process of solving????

  20. Kathy says:

    Dave, I said if. I was responding to the Post’s statement.

    President Obama has also been accused of a misuse of power.

    I have to do my homework on their recent actions and not assume it’s Democracy 101 because you say so. Unless that’s getting redefined, too.

  21. mervel says:

    So if each box of shotgun shells sold is going to be tracked with a background check, who is going to make sure that is happening correctly and who will read the reports and so forth to ensure compliance? Oh wait I think we know.

  22. Paul says:

    I heard that if a person is tagged as buying a large quantity of ammunition they will be investigated by the state police. How does that work exactly? So the police are going to be investigating the poor sucker who volunteered to pick up all the shells on the way to the skeet field. Why not put some reasonable cap on the number of shells you can buy per month and have you get some kind of permit if you need more. As much as some disagree here the constitution allows us to put reasonable limits on things. This gestapo way of handling this issue is crazy. Not to mention a waste of valuable time for the state police. If there was a law on the amount of ammunition you can buy that would be different. For this all they do is waste their time investigating and then the person who has the stuff just tells the cops “yes I bought all the ammo there is no law against that right? Why am I being investigated?” This seems like the kind of thing you get when you don’t think about the legislation you are drafting.

    Even with most of these mass shootings the amounts of actual bullets that were fired are less than a target shooter goes through in a day at the range. Are we planning on setting the number pretty low and investigating lots of individuals?

    When they talk about how a shooter has “thousands of rounds of ammunition” (especially for a very popular target caliber like the .223 used in Newtown) you can easily buy this ammunition in boxes of 500 or 1000 shells.

    I know that “you don’t need 10 bullets to kill a deer” but target shooters can use lots of shells.

    I don’t use too many bullets myself but I am inclined to buy them now in PA on my way back from Baltimore.

  23. Marvel says:

    Yeah I will not be buying shells in nys. Once you are in the system mistakes are made also the info can be used against you.

  24. Marvel says:

    In this case the NRA was right we were told over and over this has nothing to do with hunting, now they are tracking every box of shotgun shells, it will be MAINLY hunters who are impacted.

  25. tootightmike says:

    Rancid, Let’s not jump to conclusions. I like this Governor…sometimes…and then he’ll say something ridiculous about needing casinos in upstate to help with school funding, and I think he’s got a screw loose. Years and years of gridlock in Albany, and how many of those clowns got sent to jail, and now we have a governor that makes things happen, and it doesn’t seem so bad. He’s not coming after any of MY guns.
    Don’t get me wrong though…I think he’d be a terrible President.

  26. Kathy says:

    So the bottom line here is that NY state residents get 7 rounds in their clip and the criminal gets 15+ since they don’t obey the law.


  27. Paul says:

    Mervel for me it is more of why bother with the hassle. I have bough guns recently and they did a BG check. I assume that is what the paperwork was for? But why bother with it for just buying a box of shells. Clearly not something that was designed to solve the problem and affects people that they said it was not aimed at. That is why they have had this press coverage. These papers are doing what the constitution calls for, scrutinizing something the government has done that doesn’t make much sense despite the popular support for it.

  28. Paul says:

    Sorry bought not the tree branch bough!

  29. Marlo Stanfield says:

    I’ve got mixed feelings about the law. Some parts I think are good, like some of the tougher sentences for gun crimes and some of the mental health provisions. Others are basically good but they should’ve thought out how they would work, like the background checks for private sales. Others, like the reduction of the legally acceptable magazine size from 10 to 7 and banning more rifles based on cosmetic features that make them look scary, are ridiculous and will give law abiding people more hoops to jump through without saving a single life.

    I’m not too bothered by the process, because I think the outcome would’ve been the same even if they took a few days. I think Albany works better now than it did a few years ago, when it was all chaos and dysfunction. Cuomo gets things done. When it’s a bill you support, it’s a good thing. What bothers me is the spineless ness of the Republicans in the Senate, and of everyone else in Albany who cowers before Cuomo afraid to challenge him. The bill got 12 or 13 republican votes in the senate, I think. They should’ve pushed to squash or change it, but they didn’t.

  30. Paul says:

    Marlo, I think I agree with you.

  31. mervel says:


    I think that is correct. Most people, myself included don’t scrutinize NYS regulations very much, I assumed, until well this discussion, that it was just a bill that shored up some things and got rid of assault weapons. I did not know about tracking shotgun shells.

    Of course the problem is that the majority of New Yorkers don’t hunt and don’t care, which is why the bill has broad support.

  32. mervel says:

    I don’t see the Republicans in Albany as an opposition party at all. I think there are likely more Democrats who would be against some of this than Republicans. Our political divisions are kind of good in one respect Coumo can get more things done, but there is no meaningful policy difference at this point between the parties locally, so it just comes down to what team you are on and how to get more power and favors. Coumo has stated very clearly he really likes the Republican Senate. Which is interesting that he feels confident enough to say that AND that the Republicans in the Senate didn’t protest.

  33. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Old Bulgarian thwarts assassination attempt with back-hand. Assassin is disabled by mob without any use of firearms. Restrictive gun laws in Bulgaria save politicians life.

  34. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    I will take the reasoned opinion of Mirror editor Tony Hall over the PS editorial board. Lake George Mirror editorial:

    Self-Preservation and the Right to Bear Arms
    According to Hobbes and Locke, the 17th century political philosophers who influenced the minds of the framers of the Constitution more profoundly than any other thinkers, life in a state of nature is “nasty, brutish and short.” To secure the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we leave the state of nature, enter into civil society and consent to be governed. If we interpreted the second amendment as the National Rifle Association does, as an absolute right to bear arms, civil socie- ty would in fact be a state of nature, where it’s a war of all against all. We allow limitations on some rights so as to protect our most basic right – the right to self-preservation. So the New York State legislature and Governor are to be commended for enacting the NY SAFE Act of 2013, which expands the state’s ban on assault weapons, cracks down on illegal guns and includes new measures to keep guns away from the mentally ill. We reget that our State Senator, Betty Little, felt unable to vote for the measure. According to Little’s spokesman, Dan Macentee, 98% of the calls to her office were in opposition to the measure, and were expressed with an intensity second only to the calls opposing last year’s marriage equality act. We understand that Senator Little feels bound to represent the opin- ions of her constituents. But frankly, this is a case in which the prevailing opinion makes little sense. The new law in no way infringes on the rights of hunters or target shooters, or even upon the second amendment properly understood, as the right of society to maintain well regulated militias. The assasinations of the 1960s inspired the nation’s first restrictions on the sale and distribution of fire arms. If one more assasination was prevent- ed, it was felt, the laws were justified. If New York State’s law, and pending federal rules, prevent one more insane massacre of innocent people, they, too, will be justified.

  35. The Original Larry says:

    Read the damn law! Or, better yet, check the web site set up for FAQs.

    There is no gun or gun owner in NY (including law enforcement) unaffected by this misbegotten statute. Buying a box of shells for my 20 ga. S x S will subject me to a background check, as will any ammunition purchase. Why should anyone care? Because it wasn’t supposed to be about hunters or target shooters engaged in lawful activity and now it is. It wasn’t supposed to be about handguns but any licensed handgun owner will find out that now it is when they go to buy ammunition or a legal magazine. Pro-gun people were mocked and derided as paranoid for worrying about restrictions on our constitutional rights. If I had the energy I could go back and quote all the “don’t worry” comments. Well, I am worried because I don’t know what’s next. The way they did this should make any thoughtful person worry about what’s left of our rights.

  36. The Original Larry says:

    “The new law in no way infringes on the rights of hunters or target shooters”

    Obviously wrong. Like I said, read the damn law.

  37. Brian Mann says:

    Kathy –

    For this “comparison” to have been meaningful to me, I would have asked her to do two things to the best of her ability:

    1. Fire 60 rounds as rapidly as possible (including clip reloads) using both the hunting rifle and the AR-15

    2. Aim at human-sized targets on moving spindles lined up on different shooting axes

    This is speculation on my part, but I’m willing to bet a nickel that her “kill” efficiency with the AR-15 would be much, much higher.

    –Brian, NCPR

  38. Kathy says:

    Brian, I understand your comment.

    Yet, isn’t that the point? The kill efficiency?

    There are hunters who use this weapon. One individual I recently heard said he takes it out because there are grizzly bears where he lives.

    Additionally, if a criminal has said weapon, I would think one would have to defend themselves with something equal in power and/or ability.

    In other words, it’s the criminal’s kill efficiency we’re worried about. Not the legal gun owner. In fact, I would think we would have applauded the latter if he was present in Aurora or Sandy Hook.

    So, the responsible gun owner is getting punished. And the only thing left to do seems to be to confiscate these guns that are banned. But you’ll never get the criminal’s guns. And they will use them. What will we have to defend ourselves or others?

  39. The Original Larry says:

    Had you asked the NRA champ shooter to perform the two tests you referenced above you would have been surprised….and disappointed. She could fire 60 rounds from either weapon using 6 10 round magazines faster than you or I could figure out how to insert the magazine in the first place. Seriously, many competent shooters make the high capacity argument look silly. Also, despite the fact that she isn’t kiling anything, I am sure she would be equally competent with either weapon under any circumstances. Your reasoning is flawed; she would not prove your point.

  40. mervel says:

    Well in the north country we live close to other states that will not have this type of law, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine etc. Hunters will be able to stock up there (which I don’t think is against this law) thereby avoiding going into some state database, plus we will avoid nys sales tax. Certainly this will hurt small businesses who sell guns. The other option of course is to just re-load your own shotgun shells thereby avoiding the whole thing and it saves money anyway.

    If these laws become more restrictive and I think punitive, people will start to look at re-loading, buying gun kits to assemble their own or simply go out of state to make all of these purchases.

    I think we will get a national assault weapons ban sooner or later, but we will not in our lifetime pass a national law tracking shotgun shells and rifle bullets, it just won’t happen, so this all can be avoided for those who care enough about not being on some list somewhere.

  41. mervel says:

    Once again though that is what is great about our wonderful federalist plan, we can really look at what works. New York can go ahead and pass a restrictive gun law and we can look and see how it works, if it works, what the impacts are and compare that to other states who are taking totally different approaches.

  42. mervel says:

    I mean I don’t like it; but I also realize this is NYS, we like regulations, and we a pro-gun control state, I realize I am in the minority and that is democracy and also realize I have options.

  43. The Original Larry says:

    “In this case the NRA was right we were told over and over this has nothing to do with hunting, now they are tracking every box of shotgun shells, it will be MAINLY hunters who are impacted.”

    “Once again though that is what is great about our wonderful federalist plan, we can really look at what works. New York can go ahead and pass a restrictive gun law and we can look and see how it works, if it works, what the impacts are and compare that to other states who are taking totally different approaches.”

    Right on both counts, Mervel. Americans will tolerate many things but not being lied to. People are watching NY and many are uncomfortable with this law and the way it was implemented and the lies and misinformation that accompanied it.. There may well be a backlash that prevents reasonable, effective national legislation. Cuomo will bear the responsibility for that. His law may well be struck down by the courts. Finally, Cuomo’s manner and approach will turn many people off and he will never be elected President. 0 for 3 is pretty poor. He deserves no better.

  44. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    It’s been a long time since I lived in grizzly country but people used to prefer higher caliber weapons to stop a charging grizzly. Lewis and Clark had some difficulty with grizzlies on their expedition and they managed to survive without an AR-15. I don’t know how the Indians ever survived without firearms at all.

  45. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Kathy, I learned something from that video. I learned that people say lots of nonsense. Many of the features of the AR-15 are cosmetic and don’t have any bearing on the functioning of the weapon at all? Huh? The pistol grip helps to hold the gun steadier but that has no relation to the function of the weapon?

    Does she know what the definition of is is?

  46. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Okay, Kathy got to show her video, now I get to show mine. I learned some things from this video too. Sorry for the advertising.

    Not a video but 5 people hurt at 3 gun shows:

  47. The Original Larry says:

    The new law also restricts guns with bayonet mounts. Can you explain that one? I didn’t think so. I guess some things are open to debate. Too bad we don’t have any in NY.

  48. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Yes, bayonets are knife-like weapons that mount on the end of rifles (or smooth-bore long guns) and are indicative of weapons intended for military purposes. Doesn’t seem that hard to explain.

  49. The Original Larry says:

    Great video, KHL, what’s next? A law against stupidity? Those mental defectives shouldn’t drive cars, use power tools or be allowed near live wires. Gonna ban all that too?

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