New York may appear to be divided over its new gun laws, but the short-term battles are mere flesh wounds in a long war to change the culture around violence.
You could be forgiven for thinking that recent news out of New York proves gun-rights supporters have lawmakers on the run. In mid-February, 500 outraged opponents of gun restrictions held a rally in Albany’s freezing temperatures to protest the state’s new gun-control regulations passed January 15. The president of a large state gun dealer said on January 21 that tens of thousands of assault rifle owners would boycott an April 2014 registration deadline mandated by the law. An anonymous source in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office responded like a parent who’s given up doing anything about their acting-out teen: “Many of these assault-rifle owners aren’t going to register; we realize that.”
Newtown ended that era, creating new energy for a mass movement for gun control. Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a grassroots group launched the day after the shooting, has grown to 80,000 members and 80 chapters in just over two months.
The gun lobby is doing its best to give the appearance that the opposite is happening—that there’s mass public outrage over new gun laws. The NRA sent its president to appear at a rally February 28 that drew 5,000 protesters chanting, “We will not comply” and holding signs comparing Cuomo to Hitler.
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Steven Yoder writes about criminal justice, immigration, and other domestic policy issues. His work has appeared in Salon, The Fiscal Times, The Crime Report, and elsewhere.