New York is not an island, and therein lies the big problem with the approach to an assault weapons ban Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined in his State of the State address yesterday.
Don’t get us wrong: His plan is a good one, and would provide an excellent model for a national law. The problem is that without a national law — or a comprehensive network of comparable state laws — there’s little point in banning assault rifles and high-volume clips; it will still be relatively easy for New Yorkers to drive elsewhere to buy them and bring them home.
Consider the state’s valiant but futile effort to keep illegal fireworks out: Because they’re legal in most nearby states (Massachusetts, New Jersey and Delaware are the sole exceptions), New Yorkers who want firecrackers and the like to celebrate the Fourth of July think nothing of hopping in the car to stock up in advance of the holiday.
So, unfortunately, it is likely to be with the people who will still want to buy the assault weapons and ammunition favored by mass murderers like Sandy Hook killer Adam Lanza: They’ll just drive to gun stores in their nearest border state, hide their purchases in the trunk of their cars and drive home.
Nonetheless, Cuomo deserves credit for having the courage to stand up to the country’s powerful gun lobby. If he’s successful in getting a ban approved by the Legislature, it may embolden other states to follow suit. Maybe even Congress, which would be the best way to attack the problem.
Not that anyone should kid themselves into thinking that banning them would keep all criminals and crazies from getting their hands on them — at least for the foreseeable future. There are already so many of them in circulation, that would be impossible. But this country has to start somewhere if it wants to reduce its gun violence problem, and banning the most dangerous weapons is the best way. It won’t be possible to get all of these guns out of circulation, but at least by not adding thousands of new ones every year, someday it won’t be as easy for the wrong types of people to procure them.