My adopted state of residence, New York, is one of the worst states for being a peaceable gun owner. New York is legendary for its infringements on gun rights; the past 100 years have brought wave after wave of gun control, starting with the infamous Sullivan Law (struck down in NYSRPA v. Bruen) and continuing with the Concealed Carry “Improvement” Act (CCIA) of 2022.
The Empire State’s petty vindictiveness has made gun ownership even worse in some ways after Bruen. New Yorkers outside of New York City did not have to deal with licensing of any long guns until last year when the CCIA started mandating the licensing of semi-autos. I could get ammo shipped to my doorstep, and now I must get it shipped to a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) because the State suddenly thinks that millions of gun owners cannot be trusted anymore.
New York’s semi-auto (and concealed carry) licensing requires a punitive 16-hour training course and costly fees. The state’s goal is obvious to anyone with half a brain: make it as burdensome as possible to exercise your constitutionally guaranteed rights so you are dissuaded from exercising them. And the good old-fashioned racist subtext is to keep peaceable minorities, who are often poor, from even thinking about getting a gun.
That vindictiveness has continued further. The State wants to create an artificial instructor shortage to delay the necessary training for its citizens, again to dissuade people from exercising their rights. And what’s the lowest hanging fruit in the world of firearms instruction to go after? The National Rifle Association!
New York’s new training barriers call for a certificate that must be issued by a State-authorized instructor. Instructors so far have fallen into the following categories: duly commissioned officers of or instructors recognized by the U.S. armed forces or New York National Guard, instructors recognized by the Adjutant General of NY, the Division of Criminal Justice Services, the Department of Environmental Conservation (for hunting), an NRA-certified instructor or a 4-H certified shooting sports instructor.
Of the above, the most common are NRA instructors. On a national level, the NRA boasts a network of 125,000 instructors. New York is clearly targeting them, and the legislators have not hidden their motive at all.
Tom and Cam both wrote last year about a proposal in the New York Senate to exclude NRA instructors. The latest development mirrors this move, this time in the New York State Assembly in Bill No. A06663:
BILL NUMBER: A6663
TITLE OF BILL:
An act to amend the penal law and the executive law, in relation to removing the national rifle association from the list of entities authorized to grant certificates as instructors in small arms practice
The purpose of this bill is to remove the National Rifle Association (“NRA”) from the list of entities that is eligible to grant certificates as instructors in small arms practice, and replace it with the Division of Criminal Justice Services (“DCJS”), a state entity.
When the definition of “duly authorized instructor” was added to the penal law in 1997, gun rights and gun safety looked different than they do today. Since the mass shooting at Columbine High School in 1999, more than 311,000 students at 331 schools have been exposed to gun violence at school. In that same time frame, mass shootings and daily gun violence have continued at a frequent pace in cities across America. Where the NRA was once viewed as an authority on gun safety, it has become an extremist organization that prioritizes political advocacy at the expense of safety.
After numerous incidents of gun violence, instead of supporting reasonable gun safety measures, the NRA has pursued an extreme political agenda focused on overturning gun safety laws here in New York and across the nation. Through its conduct as an organization, the NRA has proven to no longer be an authority on gun safety.
Clearly, New York’s problem is with the NRA’s political goals and its refusal to acquiesce to the demands of the gun control freaks who run the show in this state. Our legislators find it galling that the NRA has dared speak out in favor of its members’ interests, instead of speaking out against the interests of its dues-paying members.
So, the punishment being meted out to the organization is excluding its knowledgeable and excellent instructors who know a thing or two about real gun safety from the State’s onerous licensing program. This is clearly a violation of the First Amendment right of the NRA. and by extension, the First Amendment right of its members to collectively speak through the association.
The real target is, of course, the Second Amendment rights of New Yorkers. But as we have seen repeatedly, the gun grabbers will not hesitate to attack the entire Bill of Rights, be it the First, Fourth, or Fifth Amendments to achieve their goal of destroying the Second Amendment.