New York Politics: It Never Stops With the Guns
November 03, 2014
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo came into office as a reformer, vowing to rein in public employee unions and fight the notorious corruption in the state legislature. Those things he has not done. What he did do was jam through a package of gun legislation that would be comical if it didn't have the force of law.
Most preposterously, it mandated seven-round magazines for ARs and other rifles when no such magazines existed. When that became apparent, the state sheepishly said owners could use 10-round magazines, but could only load seven cartridges, except at a range.
The main result of the law has been massive non-compliance, which Cuomo's administration has tried to hide by refusing to release data on how many "assault weapons" have been registered.
Now Cuomo is running for reelection against Republican Rob Astorino, who has generally supported gun rights. There's little question Cuomo will win, given the dominance of the Democrats in New York City, but Cuomo had hoped to roll up a large majority to bolster his presidential aspirations.
The gun issue means Cuomo's not getting many votes Upstate, so his campaign is resorting to press-gang tactics to maximize his vote in Democratic strongholds around New York City.
Fred Dicker, dean of the Albany press corps, reported in the New York Post that the New York State Democratic Committee sent out a letter to more than a million Democratic voters warning them the party would keep tabs on who voted in tomorrow's election:
"Who you vote for is your secret. But whether or not you vote is public record," the letter says. "We will be reviewing voting records ... to determine whether you joined your neighbors who voted in 2014."
Just in case recipients didn't get the point, the letter went on to say, "If you do not vote this year, we will be interested to hear why not."
There was a time when doughty New Yorkers would have responded to that with "Yeah, I'm voting: for Astorino!" Probably with a middle-finger salute for emphasis. We can hope there are still some of those out there. But in a state where the clammy fingers of the government wind everywhere, the temptation to fall in line and stay out of trouble will be strong.
The blowback on the letter was immediate, leading to what one insider called a Ã¬circular firing squadÃ® among Democrat operatives. Cuomo quickly denied knowledge of the letter, taking the "plausible deniability" approach so popular in the Nixon and Obama years. Speculation about its authorship quickly centered around Neil Kwatra, a deputy attorney general and former brass-knuckled union organizer. Kwatra defended the letter on grounds the Republicans had done something similar in North Carolina.
An Astorino pollster summed it up succinctly, saying, "This sounds like the Democrats are saying, We're watching you, and if you don't turn out to vote, the brown shirts are going to be knocking at your door."
Yep, that's exactly how it sounds, and it's exactly what we expect from those who don't respect our gun rights.