March 21, 2013
The Stasi was the secret police force of the former East Germany, and as its files were captured before they could be destroyed, we have a very detailed picture of its operations from 1945-90. It was very embarrassing for a lot of East Germans, including prominent athletes and intellectuals, when lists of informers were unearthed from the Stasi files. The agency's tentacles extended all over society with neighbors, coworkers and family members informing on each other. There were a lot of tense holidays after the Wall fell.
I was reminded of that when it was pointed out that the State of New York has a hotline offering $500 rewards for turning in illegal gun owners. That was all fine when the targets were drug dealers and gang members, but now violators of New York's SAFE Act could be targeted, too.
The hotline directs calls to state police, who can refer them to local agencies, though when the Fox News affiliate in Albany contacted local agencies, they'd never received any.
Republican Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin decried the measure, saying, "This initiative seeks to turn neighbor against neighbor and use their own tax dollars to pay for the $500 reward."
Gov. Andrew Cuomo admitted the fundamental flaw of the measure, which purports to outlaw the purchase of any magazine that carries more than seven rounds.
"There is no such thing as a seven-bullet magazine. That doesn't exist, so you really have no practical option," Cuomo said. He told reporters that any suggestion this will be a rollback of the law is "wholly without basis." Guess the governor has never heard of an M1911 pistol.
Cuomo admitted the state will have to allow 10-shot magazines, but New Yorkers will have to load no more than seven rounds, except at shooting ranges and competitions. Violating the seven-round limit is a misdemeanor, but a violation if the magazine is in the owner's home.
So you can load 10 rounds at the range, and if a full magazine is found in your house, you just get a ticket. But if a cop stops you between the range and the house, you're liable for a misdemeanor.
And if you have a nosy neighbor who wants to narc you out for $500, the cops may be stopping you.
This is an excellent illustration of why we have to stand up for civil liberties, even for those who may otherwise seem unsavory. A scheme you may applaud when applied down in the hood may look entirely different when the police come to your street. Especially if your neighbors are self-appointed Stasi agents.