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COLUMN: We missed an opportunity, instead, New York passed gun law

— The problem with the law is it doesn't do what it is purported to do – that is, make us safer. Rather, it was for appearances – to make it seem as though we are safer. Did we ban weapons? Yes. Did we make our communities safer? No. Our state already had some of the toughest gun control laws in the country. We were already one of seven states that banned assault weapons and large capacity magazines.

Most of the gun crimes are committed with illegal firearms. Almost 90 percent of firearms used in New York City crimes come from out of state and most guns are illegal to begin with. Those motivated to commit murder will find a way to circumvent the laws anyway. Statistics show that gun ownership does not correlate with increased violence. Places like Washington, D.C., Oakland and Chicago, noted for their gun violence, also have the strictest laws against guns in the nation. These crimes are committed with illegal guns.

It is a falsity to say we made our streets safer. Take for example the AR-15. Thanks to Cuomo's gun law, it is now illegal in its current configuration. It has features now banned by the newly-defined assault weapon, such as a pistol grip. However, if you reconfigure the weapon, and simply remove its pistol grip, the rifle will be legal. This is a cosmetic feature.

I opposed this law in the Assembly. It does not fix our problems. It ignored the discussion we should have had about those with mental illness who exhibit signs of homicide, and presupposes that it will prevent these tragedies in the future. We could have taken $37 million and instead invested it in improving mental health services and school safety, or targeted inner-city youth to help reduce gun violence and gangs. If we truly wanted to improve public safety, law-abiding, responsible gun owners were not the place to start.

Assemblyman Will Barclay represents residents of Assembly District 120, which includes Lysander. He can be reached by mail at 200 North Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or by phone (598-5185).

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