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Another Voice: New York’s tough gun laws are keeping us safer

By Leah Gunn Barrett and Paul McQuillen

Buffalo News columnist Rod Watson sides with the Libertarian Party and its lawsuit to overturn New York’s pistol permitting law and asks what our gun laws have accomplished.

New York’s gun laws have kept guns out of the wrong hands and reduced gun deaths and injuries, making our state the third-safest state in the nation.

Plaintiffs’ fear of pistol permitting is driven by, in their words, the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and Pol Pot’s Cambodia.

The suit shows that the plaintiffs have no interest in preventing gun violence and protecting New Yorkers, especially our youth. Further, it is rife with conspiracy theories, historical inaccuracies and delusions.

Their concern that a terminally ill person will be upset if a pistol permit doesn’t arrive before the applicant’s death illustrates how out of touch with reality the plaintiffs are.

Peer-reviewed research shows that states like New York with permit to purchase licensing laws, where law enforcement has discretion in issuing permits, have a 64 percent lower risk of guns being diverted to criminals shortly after retail sales and 76 percent lower per capita rates of exporting guns to criminals in other states.

Connecticut’s permit to purchase law, enacted in 1995, resulted in a 40 percent drop in gun homicides. Conversely, Missouri’s 2007 repeal of its handgun license law resulted in a 25 percent increase in firearm homicide rates. Why would New York want to follow Missouri?

The Lafayette theater shooter failed an Alabama concealed carry weapon permit process but was still able to buy a gun at a pawn shop and shoot up a Louisiana movie theater.

The recent on-camera shooting death of two young television journalists in Virginia demonstrates the terrible consequences to be suffered when individuals are permitted to secure pistol permits with little or no background investigation.

Although the shooter passed a federal background check, a more thorough background investigation, such as conducted in New York State, likely would have revealed him to be a “powder keg” and prevented his gun ownership.

The same is true of the shooting death of a Houston law enforcement officer. That shooting once again underscores the need for more comprehensive background checks.

The Libertarian suit is not about infringing anyone’s rights, but rather is about the plaintiffs putting inconvenience in securing a lethal weapon over the safety of the people of New York.

Leah Gunn Barrett is executive director of NYers Against Gun Violence. Paul McQuillen is upstate and Western New York coordinator.