Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Greene Gunnery

    Thirteen of Greene County’s 14 legislators lined up on Wednesday night (2/20/13) in support of a memorable act of governance.  They voted for a resolution (12 Whereas clauses, four Therefore Be It Resolveds), drafted and re-drafted over a few days (see www.greenegov.com) that deserves to be remembered for its rich clump of qualities:
        INCOHERENCE. Although the resolution adopted by our 13 leaders was billed as “calling for repeal of the enactment of the New York SAFE Act,” its actual demand was for repeal of unspecified “sections” of that newly-enacted State law.
        ATROCITIES, or multiple assaults against the English language.  “[T[he right of the people to keep and bear arms is guaranteed as an individual right…and that is regarded as an inalienable right of the people…”; “lawful ownership and use of firearms is…a valued tradition in Greene County and that the right to bear arms is exercised by many Greene Country residents for which the County of Greene derives…benefits from safe forms of recreation which includes hunting and target shooting”; “our New York representatives could not and did not…receive the input of their constituents regarding this matter which is the standard by which the Greene County Legislature holds itself to when it comes to the enactment of such a controversial law and is a matter of simple due process”; “the crafting of the…Act resulted in complex policy changes, many subject to interpretation and are confusing to…officials who are required to enforce and explain them”;  “some areas of the legislation”; “there is the potential of a significant financial impact on Greene  County which will result due to sections of the Act which will require additional manpower and computer systems, as well as the tax share our residents will have to contribute if the proposed 2013-2014 budget spending of $36 million dollars for the implementation of the…Act”;   “…demand the repeal of all sections of the…Act which we believe infringes upon the right of the people to keep and bear arms; and is in our opinion unconstitutional….”
        FATUITY. In whereassing that “the only persons who will comply with the new high-capacity magazine ban are law-abiding citizens, leaving the same high-capacity magazines in the hands of those who choose not to obey the law,” our 13 legislators declared forthrightly that people who disobey a law are law-breakers.  Duh. (And they made it sound as if high-capacity magazines are jointly owned). 
       PREPOSTEROSITY.  In similar fashion, the 13 stalwart solons joined hands in asserting that the SAFE Act “effectively turns countless New York State law-abiding gun owners into criminals.”  Laws cannot do that.  Laws can prohibit what previously was legal (or the obverse).  People who violate a law (new or old) turn themselves into criminals.
       EVASION.  While charging that the SAFE Act “places increased burdens…on the backs of law-abiding citizens,” “turns countless New York State law-abiding gun owners into criminals” and  “fails to offer any meaningful solutions,” the resolute 13  neglected to offer a single word on behalf of those important judgments.
      CONTRADICTION. While maintaining that the SAFE Act “fails to offer any  meaningful solutions to gun violence,” the intrepid 13 also opined that “there are some areas of the legislation that the Greene County Legislature finds encouraging….”  (No “area” was specified).
      IMPOSSIBLE DEMAND.  Whereas those 13 county governors demanded “repeal of all the sections of the New York SAFE Act which we believe infringes [sic] upon [sic] the right of the people to keep and bear arms; and is [sic] in our opinion unconstitutional under both the Federal and State Constitution [sic],” they did not identify those sections.  They accordingly made it impossible for the prospective repealers to comply.                                                
`                         THE OTHER VOICE
    The one legislator who voted against that memorable anti-SAFE Act resolution was Vincent Seeley of Catskill.  He contended that the resolution would do “nothing but put more walls around Greene County’s relationship with Albany”; that some of the Act’s provisions “make sense”; that the constitutionality issue belongs to the courts; that “Instead of asking for a repeal, we need to work collaboratively to amend the areas that don't work for us”; and instead of squandering time and resources on this ill-conceived repeal campaign, Greene County’s legislators ought to be concentrating on jobs and the economy.