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ROGERS: SAFE or Unsafe – New York and the NRA

Bob Rogers

Tuesday, August 28, 2018 – Following the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in December 2012, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo arm-twisted the state legislature just a month later to pass the SAFE (Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement) Act. The legislation, which among other screwy components, would limit AR-15 magazines to seven rounds, despite the fact that no 7-round magazines existed, amounted more-or-less to a political feel-good law that has ensnared gun makers into rifle workarounds ever since. Now Cuomo wants to use the Empire State’s financial clout to convince insurers to avoid underwriting the NRA’s Carry Guard member insurance program lest the state use its money muscle to discourage banks and insurers from conducting business with the NRA. That scheme has now caught the attention of First Amendment advocates at the ACLU. (See story, below).

The Wall Street Journal this morning reported that “gun promotion is core political speech, entitled to the same constitutional protection as speech advocating for reproductive rights, marijuana legalization, or financial deregulation.” That followed Cuomo’s order – says the ACLU – to the state’s Department of Financial Services to advise two insurers that the department would impose millions of dollars in fines and barring them from selling consumer insurance products that are endorsed by the NRA. The gun group says that its insurance carrier then severed ties and “would not provide the NRA with insurance at any price.”

Regulatory retaliation by a governing body is a cute tool advising any legitimate company that its pursuit of business related to controversially based products or services that it runs the risk of economic shutdown just to make a point. In the case of gun manufacturers, gun retailers, gun shows, even garage sales where personal guns may be sold, and gun group advocates, there is no defense other than that provided in the Constitution as yet established to prevent a city, county, or state from forcing its political will on companies seeking gun-related business relationships.

Fortunately, the ACLU insists it might pursue the constitutional abridgement involving New York State in this nerve-rattling dictum: “If Cuomo can do this to the NRA, then conservative governors could have their financial regulators threaten banks and financial institutions that do business with any other group whose political views the governor opposes. The First Amendment bars state officials from using their regulatory power to penalize groups merely because they promote disapproved ideas.”

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