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In January, 2013, the NY State Legislature passed the NY SAFE Act of 2013. Among other things, this statute makes it illegal for firearms in New York to have magazines which carry more than seven bullets. One can understand the State Legislature’s desire, in this instance, to do something in response to the highly-publicized events in Newtown, C.T. in December, 2012. Nevertheless, passing arbitrary restrictions in the number of bullets that can be carried in a gun, as the State Legislature has done, seems more like a knee-jerk political reaction that will do nothing to improve public safety.
Dan Potenzieri, a junior political science major, says that the recently-passed NY SAFE Act is “ridiculous” and that the State Legislature needs to think “more broadly than the amount of rounds you carry in a [firearm].” On a humorous note, Sama Shokr, a senior international studies major, says “I don’t support any bullets in a gun. I support flowers.”
Gun owners in New York will now become lawbreakers if they defend themselves against criminals using a gun that contains more than seven bullets. After the events that occurred in Newtown in 2012, should the NY State Legislature be making it harder for people to defend themselves against those who wish to do them harm?
To be sure, supporters of the SAFE Act in the legislature have indicated that the measure is meant to reduce violent crime, not to attack the rights of “responsible” gun owners as Governor Andrew Cuomo has said. Nevertheless, such a belief relies on the assumption that criminals will somehow be restricted to seven bullets or less in their guns simply because the Legislature has passed a law to that effect. Criminals, especially violent ones, do not obey laws. That is why they are called criminals. Even though they may now be unable to legally obtain weapons with more than seven rounds in a magazine in New York, this does not mean that they will be unable to obtain larger capacity firearms through illegal means. Again, they are called criminals for a reason.
The amount of bullets one needs to defend one’s self against a criminal is simply not determinable by a Legislative act. It is determined by the criminal one is being attacked by and the situation one finds oneself in. In January, 2013, a home invader in Georgia was shot five times by a mom with two young children who used a six-shot revolver. The home invader was able to flee the scene even though he had been shot five times. Nevertheless, if a parent in New York used a gun containing more than 7 bullets to protect his or her children from a home invader, that parent would be considered a criminal under the NY SAFE Act. In this respect, the act is neither “SAFE” nor workable in the real world. If the NY State Legislature desires to promote public safety it should focus on stopping crime, not on punishing law-abiding citizens by making it more difficult for them to protect themselves against harm. Though one does not doubt the well-meaning of the legislators who voted for the NY SAFE Act (it will technically make life harder for criminals) the extent to which it infringes on the Constitutional right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms in order to protect themselves is simply too much to accept.