Perhaps the best that can be said about the New York gun law is that it is a modern updating of the old principle of apotropaic magic.
The state of New York has just passed what has been called the toughest gun control law in the nation, the first such law to go on the books since the Newtown massacre shocked and horrified the nation. Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has championed the new law, has virtually dared both other states and the federal government to do something equally tough about gun violence. Tough here is the operative word, as you will notice if you read the various accounts of the new law — and tough definitely describes the attitude that most of America’s liberals wish to adopt in dealing with the mass shooting tragedies that have plagued our nation.
It should perhaps come as no surprise that at least one of Cuomo’s Republican opponents in the New York Assembly has attacked the new law as an example of political opportunism. After the passage of the bill, Senator Greg Ball commented that “We haven't saved any lives tonight, except one: the political life of a governor who wants to be president.” But even if we accept Ball’s uncharitable analysis of Cuomo’s personal motives, the charge of political opportunism simply means that the governor of New York has given the majority of New Yorkers the tough gun law that they wanted.
Yet what exactly does it mean to say that a gun law is tough? Is a tough law more effective in reducing gun violence? Presumably; but those who are currently talking about New York’s tough new gun law don’t yet know whether the new law will have this much-desired effect. It may or may not. Yet uncertainty as to the actual effect of New York’s new law doesn’t appear to detract from its much-ballyhooed toughness. But what exactly makes it so tough? CONTINUE READING