DALLAS, July 3, 2013 – In a video sweeping the Internet, Aaron Weiss, an Iraq combat veteran and law enforcement officer, passionately addresses Dutchess County Legislature during discussions to repeal New York’s extreme gun-grabbing initiative, the NY SAFE Act. The video, recorded in March, is a stark, moving reminder of the difficult position legislators place both veterans and law enforcement oath keepers with extremist gun control measures. The SAFE Act at the time banned possession of magazines exceeding a mere seven rounds, imposed infeasible requirements for mental health professionals, required background checks for ammunition, created a registry and established confiscation guidelines among other provisions.
Weiss, joined by other law enforcement officers in New York, addressed the gathering hoping to appeal to reason. He began by explaining he attended previous meetings, but did not speak, wishing instead to hear what others had to say. He was shocked by lawmakers congratulating themselves over their “courage” for passing the Act swiftly.
“Apparently, my definition of courage differs from yours,” he says, almost visibly disgusted. “You see, if it was really so courageous a bill, and it took so much courage to pass it, then why was it done in the middle of the night when no one could see it or read it? That’s not courage. That’s a mafia style sit-down to divvy up what’s good for the bosses.”
“Courage,” he continued, “is taking the right and true course of action, not the politically expedient one. Anyone proud of this law must also be proud of the PATRIOT Act, the TSA (Transportation Security Agency), imprisoning Japanese citizens in World War II, since all these actions were spurred by emotional fear and rammed through in the name of public safety.”
Weiss, then addresses a sensitive issue that silenced soft whispers in the crowd: the exploitation of the Sandy Hook victims to manipulate public support for gun control.
“Another issue is the insistence of certain people to stand on the graves of dead children and challenge those that disagree to say it to the parent’s faces,” he said. “Well, I, for one, will pick up that gauntlet.”
“First off, why is ‘dead children’ your battle cry?” Weiss asked roughly. “You didn’t say anything about the hundreds of Chicago children being killed and for some reason you only screamed when it happens to wealthy white ones.”
Currently, Chicago is a gun-control advocates dream: citizens with a felony or certain minor misdemeanors are prohibited from ownership. Democratic leaders in the state consistently praise “tough” laws and the need for even more. Last year, more Americans were killed in Chicago than in Kabul, Afghanistan; a war zone.
“My right is more important than your dead, because I fought for it firsthand. I washed the blood of my friends out of my Humvee and I picked up their mangled bodies and I fought day in and day out,” Weiss says, emotionally moved by verbalizing his experience.
“I did more things than people can imagine. So, yeah, my right trumps your dead. I earned it in blood. I gave up a lot for this country, including my youth, and better men than me gave up a whole lot more so that all of you, myself included, could enjoy the rights that are guaranteed to us in our Constitution and Bill of Rights.” Veterans didn’t endure those struggles to surrender their liberties based on actions of “a couple of demented, mad men”.
Collecting his thoughts and composure, Weiss concludes with a challenge to the lawmakers led by a “misguided sense of public good” to demonstrate their true resolve.
“Since voting to take away someone’s rights is totally different than being asked to enforce it, I want you to consider this. If you support the SAFE Act so wholeheartedly, are you willing to stand with law enforcement members who lead from the front to enforcement? What I mean by that is if a constituent of yours feels so alienated by this law and the manner in which it was passed and they refuse to comply with it, are you willing to stack up on their front door and go in first?”
Weiss’ strong opinions resonate among gun owners in the law enforcement, military and veteran communities, many of which are avid private firearm collectors. Immediately after the SAFE Acts’ rushed passing, thousands of citizens publicly protested in Albany. Around Central New York, citizens swarmed town hall meetings to voice their concerns over the legislation. Many stated they simply would not comply with confiscation.
Since January, 58 New York counties passed nullification measures, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs refused to comply and multiple entities filed lawsuits.
Though the citizens have been unable to repeal the SAFE Act immediately, dissenters managed to inform New York governor Andrew Cuomo that seven-round magazines do not exist for most firearms. In March 2013, the Governor conceded, “There is no such thing as a seven-bullet magazine [sic]. That doesn’t exist, so you really have no practical option.”
His solution was to “allow” the possession of rifles with ten-round magazines, but citizens can only load seven rounds legally in any magazine at any time, except at shooting ranges and competitions.
The New York Sheriffs Association, along with five individual sheriffs issued a statement regarding the SAFE Act:
“The Supreme Court has confirmed that the Second Amendment protects arms typically possessed by law-abiding citizens, and identified that the right of self-defense is ‘core’ protected conduct that is at its zenith in the home,” the sheriffs’ brief said. “At a minimum, laws that criminalize the most common rifle in America today – a rifle that is often selected precisely for its self-defense capabilities – impinge upon that core right. The same is true of laws banning standard-capacity magazines.”
The Sheriff’s believe the law, “restricts commonly-owned arms that are widely chosen by law-abiding citizens for self-defense within their homes. Law enforcement officers are no exception to this practice.”
Last month, the New York Senate exempted retired law enforcement from some of the provisions, effectively creating two classes of citizens capable of exercising their Second Amendment rights. New York State’s Rifle and Pistol Association has filed the lawsuit in May claiming that “the SAFE Act is unconstitutional in that it violates the Second Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause, and is unconstitutionally vague.”
As of now, a judge refused to issue an injunction and the law stands in modified form.