New York Governor Cuomo the Junior may have rushed through his new gun control law with such speed that police will avoid its restrictions only through the blessed miracle of selective enforcement, but he may have a little trouble getting the state's firearms owners to attend his party. The new law requires owners of those scary-looking rifles known as "assault weapons" to register their property (amidst assurances that, oh no, the registration lists will never be used for confiscation), but gun rights activists are actively urging gun owners to defy the new mandate.
According to Frederic Dicker at the New York Post:
Assault-rifle owners statewide are organizing a mass boycott of Gov. Cuomo's new law mandating they register their weapons, daring officials to "come and take it away," The Post has learned.
Gun-range owners and gun-rights advocates are encouraging hundreds of thousands of owners to defy the law, saying it'd be the largest act of civil disobedience in state history.
"I've heard from hundreds of people that they're prepared to defy the law, and that number will be magnified by the thousands, by the tens of thousands, when the registration deadline comes,'' said Brian Olesen, president of the American Shooters Supply, one of the largest gun dealers in the state.
Dicker quotes a Cuomo administration official admitting, "Many of these assault-rifle owners aren't going to register; we realize that." Which means that state officials were merely posturing rather than entirely ignorant of history when they penned the law and jammed it through. As I've written before, gun laws traditionally breed massive levels of non-compliance — even in places where you might think people have no strong history of personal arms, or of resistance to the state, When Germany imposed gun registration in 1972, the country's officials managed to get paperwork on all of 3.2 million firearms out of an estimated 17-20 million guns in civilian hands. Californians may have registered as many as ten percent of the "assault weapons" they owned when that state imposed registration in 1990 (though the New York Times put the figure rather lower, at about 7,000 out of an estimated 300,000 guns covered by the law).
The reason for such reticence isn't hard to fathom. When gun owners charge that politicians can't be trusted to resist using registration lists for future confiscation, they're not being paranoid — New York City and California have both done just that.
Political officials might want to consider those experiences, as well as a recent poll finding two-thirds of Americans willing to defy tighter gun restrictions, before setting themselves up for public demonstrations of their impotence in the face of mass defiance.