SAFE Act brings a hint of sanity


To The Editor:
Constitutional rights are context specific.  The first amendment includes the right of free speech but we accept that it is illegal to scream “fire” in a crowded building.  You can’t make a joke about bombs if you’re on an airplane.  You can’t make racist or sexist comments in public.  The first amendment also includes the right to peaceful assembly.  But protest groups need permits and are then subject to supervision by police.  Protesters are corralled into “free speech zones”, which begs the question, “is there no free speech outside the designated free speech zone?”

I bring up these examples in response to the argument that the NY SAFE Act violates the constitutional right to bear arms since it prohibits high capacity clips and forces owners of assault style weapons to register them.  Just as other constitutional rights have restrictions, the right to bear arms is not absolute.  Even Wayne LaPierre, the chief pitchman for the gun industry, would agree that citizens can not be permitted to own rocket launchers.
The NY SAFE Act was passed soon after the Newtown massacre of December, 2012 in which a young man, who should never have had access to firearms, killed 20 first graders and six teachers using an assault rifle with 30-round magazines  The law doesn’t take away anyone’s guns, unless in the process of registering an assault weapon, it is determined that an owner, based on criminal or mental health records, cannot own the gun.
Gun makers had been making record profits since Obama took office.  We can have our own theories why that would be.  But in the aftermath of the Newtown massacre and with the threat of stricter gun control legislation, gun sales, particularly of assault rifles, have gone through the roof. This translates to 100s of millions of dollars in increased profits for the gun industry.  In fact, more states have loosened than tightened gun control over the last year but sales and profits continue to soar.
Second amendment absolutists have latched on to the dubious belief that ever more weaponry in the hands of regular citizens is a protection against government tyranny.  I would counter that easy access to high-powered weapons, and the resulting death toll, are part and parcel with the corporate tyranny, with or without government complicity, that is throttling our democracy.  
With the influence its money buys, the gun industry is forcing its lethal products on an unsuspecting public.  The NY Safe Act brings a hint of sanity to this critical issue and that’s why it is more threatening to the gun makers than all the lethal weapons they can churn out.

Matthew Frisch, Todd Mt.