No Common Ground, Or Sense, In New Gun Laws

New York moved quickly back in 2013 to pass the SAFE Act, a gun law that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly called the toughest in the nation.

The law was poorly written, passed quickly with a message of necessity and signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo a whole hour after it was approved by the Legislature. For many in New York state, the SAFE Act is the poster child for poor lawmaking. Democrats moved quickly, capitalizing on two tragedies — the school shooting Newtown, Conn., and the shooting of volunteer firefighters in Webster, N.Y. — and created a bad law.

It comes as no surprise, then, that Republicans in the state Senate, burned by the SAFE Act in 2013, used parliamentary procedure last week to kill Democrats’ latest attempt to strike quickly after a national tragedy to enact new gun laws. Democrats were asking to strengthen the state’s background check system, set aside state funding for research into firearm violence, ban bump stocks and create a new court order of protection to bar people considered to be a danger to themselves or others from possession or buying guns.

We’re not sure some of the Democrats’ bills deserved to see the light of day anyway. The institute to study firearm violence sounds like a massive waste of money. Legislation encouraging lawsuits against gun manufacturers would be wonderful for trial lawyers while not accomplishing anything that actually prevents gun violence.

Perhaps, though, Senate Republicans can strike a compromise on the Democrats’ proposal to make it more difficult for people considered to be a danger to themsevles or others to buy or possess guns.

Republican Senate Leader John Flanagan of Long Island told the Associated Press that Senate Republicans have their own legislation, one piece of which would be stronger restrictions on access to firearms by those with mental illness. There should be a legal mechanism in place to keep guns out of the hands of those who exhibit some of the troubling behavior shown by past school shooters.

Such common-sense legislation could by an important tool that actually enhances public safety. We hope both sides can come to an agreement.