For the sake of brevity… or not.

Ashley Babbitt

Week five has come to a close and it’s been a little while since I’ve written a blog. It’s not for lack of trying… I’ve started and deleted about 17 times now. There are so many things on my mind – even as I type right now – I have no clue where I want to head with this.

For a brief wrap-up of happenings around here – I’m really enjoying things… The flowers on my desk have died because I forgot to water them. I have post-its reminding me about almost everything else though. I’ve finally been able to discard my two notes reminding me to buy new batteries for my mouse.

I met and had the pleasure of interviewing Amy Ridgway, which was an awesome experience. Amy grew up in Norwich. For those who haven’t read the article, she was the brave nurse who worked with detectives to get a confession out of her colleague and friend, Charles Cullen, who has admitted to killing at least forty (but quite possibly hundreds) of patients over sixteen years as a registered nurse. Check out Charles Graeber’s book “The Good Nurse” which tells the entire story. He dedicated a great deal of his time on this work, and is the only journalist that has interviewed Cullen in prison in New Jersey. The story was also on 60 minutes and CBS This Morning. Fascinating stuff. It definitely brings up qualms regarding actions and policies of hospitals and healthcare facilities, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll save that for another time.

As a little precursor to what follows – I try to be as happy-go-lucky, peaceful, “live and let live” as possible. While my opinion below may box me in to a certain category or party of individuals according to some folks, I’d prefer to just keep my checkmark next to the spot that says “human.”

A little more than a week ago, I had the pleasure of attending the Educational Forum on the NY SAFE Act at the Oxford Rod and Gun Club. I say “pleasure” because I was honestly super excited. Now, let me warn you, I’m late to the game. I don’t know technicalities of certain firearms, and I don’t know every legal definition down to a “t.” But, I will share what I learned and some of my thoughts. Bear with me a little, okay?

The NY SAFE Act was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo on January 15, 2013. This was a knee-jerk reaction in response to the shootings in Newtown, CT.

“The SAFE Act stops criminals and the dangerously mentally ill from buying a gun by requiring universal background checks on gun purchases, increases penalties for people who use illegal guns, mandates life in prison without parole for anyone who murders a first responder, and imposes the toughest assault weapons ban in the country. For hunters, sportsmen, and law abiding gun owners, this new law preserves and protects your right to buy, sell, keep or use your guns.” -Governor Andrew Cuomo

Well that’s certainly some dexterous language to make things sounds fine-and-dandy, isn’t it?

Simply put, the SAFE Act will do nothing to make anyone any safer. Law-abiding citizens became felons while they were sleeping. Of course, tragedies including Sandy Hook, Aurora, CO, Virginia Tech, etc. are disgusting and disheartening. However, it’s been said countless times, regardless of laws that are in place, someone determined to obtain a weapon (be it a firearm, bomb, knife – you name it) and use it to cause harm on an unsuspecting or innocent party will do so.

How many criminals do you think will attempt to purchase a firearm through legal means? (Christopher Dorner and the LAPD is deserving of its own attention, so for the sake of brevity -again- I won’t discuss that now). Chances are he/she/they will talk to a friend or a friend of a friend of a friend and have what they’re looking for in a very short while.

Do I get a warm and cozy feeling when I think of a dangerously mentally ill individual with a weapon? Not particularly. Is it going to happen anyway? Absolutely. There is no legislation that will stop that.

Something else that has been given much attention from supporters of the SAFE Act is the specific portion of the 2nd Amendment that states, “A well-regulated militia.” It is imperative to understand the Constitution was written in 1787. “Well-regulated” now does not hold the same definition as it did then. These days, if something is “regulated” it is controlled, supervised, adjusted. However, when the Constitution was written “well-regulated” referred to something being in proper working order. Something that was well-regulated was calibrated correctly, functioning as expected.

Therefore, a “well-regulated militia” could very well be a group of three friends who agree to get together a few times a year, train with one another, and be content in knowing that if something were to “go down,” they would be prepared to take necessary action – be it most likely against a tyrannical government.

Another thing that was brought to my attention at the forum is that ten rounds are still allowed for shooting competitions or recreational shooting at a range. The SAFE Act does, however, limit the number of rounds you can have at your home for personal defense/protection to seven. This raises the question, “Why is sport shooting given more value than personal protection?”

If I understand correctly, the SAFE Act also does not include an exemption for law enforcement. Most police officers in NY carry 9mm weapons with a 15-round capacity. Essentially, these folks are in violation of the SAFE Act – along with thousands of law-abiding New Yorkers.

Questions arise when it comes to the lack of clarification all throughout the legislation. It was mentioned at the forum that you must re-certify your weapon with the State Police every five years. If you fail to do so, your registration will be revoked. It was also stated that it is not currently written that you will be sent a reminder notice around that five year mark, so if this ridiculous legislation holds up, you’ll want to keep track on your own.

As of March 15, all private handgun, rifle or shotgun sales or transfers (with the exception of those sales or transfers to and between certain family members) will require a background check of the buyer. The “immediate” family members exempt include spouses, domestic partners, children and stepchildren. …Okay, I have none of those things. What about siblings? The legislation is incredibly vague, and as I said before, knee-jerk. Questions were raised at the forum regarding grandchildren… they’re not considered immediate family, and are not exempt. Now, I’m not saying the background check is a necessarily a bad idea, I’m saying that the SAFE Act was very poorly written, and clearly not well thought out.

Now, I’m aware I’m jumping around a whole lot here, but I have too much to say so am only going with random snippets as they come to me.

I’ve seen posts on Facebook claiming “I have to have a license for my dog, so you should have one for your gun.” – The majority of the people frustrated with this legislation do have registered weapons and permits to carry. They are legal and were turned into criminals overnight. Other posts have made reference to other groups with limited rights, such as “How does it feel to have your rights infringed, I can’t even marry the person I love.” – I think the idea of the government being involved in “love” and “marriage” has been a ridiculous concept since I was a kid, so even heterosexuals requiring “marriage licenses” makes no sense to me. The government doesn’t need to know who I love. But I digress… I’m on your side, and you should be able to marry who you want to marry. In the same token, a gun owner who wants to protect his/her family/self has every right to do so.

A number of lawsuits have been filed against the SAFE Act, and I am super curious to see how things turn out. Arrests have also been made to folks in violation of this legislation, and people gathered to protest at arraignments of those charged with violating (this happened up in Moreau, NY – near Saratoga Springs – just last week). There have also been instances of gun licenses being wrongfully revoked due to cases of mistaken identity (one man near Buffalo, as an example).

The 2nd Amendment states, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” The NY SAFE Act is clearly in violation of this. Know your rights. Exercise your rights. Educate yourself.

Alright, that is all. I want to go out and dance in the rain.

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