EDITORIAL: SAFE Act doesn’t make us feel safe

A law with the best of intentions doesn’t make it a good law.

Such is the case with the SAFE Act, which took full effect Tuesday, April 15. From that day forward, New Yorkers may not purchase or sell “assault weapons and large capacity feeding devices.” And if you already have such a weapon, you must register it or risk being in violation of the law.

The SAFE Act is essentially Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s reaction to the mass shooting that took place on Dec. 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in neighboring Connecticut. And though we can’t fault Cuomo for wanting to take strong measures to ensure that an event such as Sandy Hook doesn’t happen here, this law – or any other law – isn’t going to prevent it from happening. All it does is add another layer of government to regulate the sale of guns.

We certainly understand the motivation behind the SAFE Act. When one person armed with a semi-automatic rifle kills 20 elementary school students and six teachers, the natural reaction by politicians is to rush into action.

That is exactly what Cuomo did. He rushed to get a bill together within one month of Sandy Hook to put an end to the sale and distribution of those types of guns in New York. Then he got the state Legislature to approve it within 24 hours of its arrival at the Capital, likely before anyone had a chance to read and absorb everything that was printed on its pages.

Cuomo’s rationalization was that he was doing this for the public’s good. Therefore, no one could fault him for taking this step.

He was wrong, though. It wasn’t long before the court challenges began, and several county sheriffs announced they wouldn’t enforce the SAFE Act. The most recent challenge ended in state Supreme Court on April 10 when Justice Thomas McNamara ruled that the SAFE Act was constitutional, and the speed at which it was passed followed state law.

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