Genevieve Wood of the Heritage Foundation reports on a piece of news about the Empire State which came as a surprise even to me. (And it’s a subject near and dear to my heart, particularly in recent months, but more on that below.) If you had to guess which state in the US has the largest single chapter membership for the National Rifle Association and it’s associated groups, what would you say? Texas? Georgia? Good guesses, but actually it’s New York. (See update below)
In just one year, the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association saw its membership almost double – from 22,000 to 41,000. The National Rifle Association credits the increase to the “Safe Act” (Safe Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act), one of the strictest gun control laws in the country, hurriedly pushed through by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature in 2013 following the Newtown, Conn., school shootings.
The NRA says the law is “a largely cosmetic legislative offering” that “instantly turned hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers into potential felons.”
When Governor Cuomo rushed through The NY SAFE Act in the wake of Newtown, he probably thought he would be providing all sorts of benefits for people, but swelling the dues paying ranks of the NRA likely wasn’t one of them. But those weren’t the only people finding new opportunities in the wake of this legislation. As Wood also notes, just this past week 105 employees at Remington Arms got the opportunity to either move elsewhere explore the many options in the public assistance system when their jobs were moved to Alabama.
I’ve been writing about the weapons related companies who have been packing up and moving out of New York for a couple of years, but now the changes have hit home at what is arguably New York’s oldest, flagship company. (And speaking as someone who grew up within bike riding distance of the Remington plant, I can assure you that if they left the state entirely, the village of Ilion, New York would dry up and collapse.) The response to this news from the Governor’s office was nothing short of hilarious.
In February, when Remington announced it would be opening a new plant in Alabama one of Cuomo’s “spokesguys” (that is how he describes himself on his Twitter page) said that “no Remington jobs are leaving NY.”
This was Rich Azzopardi’s full tweet from February 15: “Some are misinformed, others gleefully spreading misinformation, but to be clear, no Remington jobs are leaving NY.”
Sounds like the only folks who turned out to be “misinformed” and “spreading misinformation” are the folks in Cuomo’s office.
While Cuomo continues to claim the layoffs are simply “a function of Remington consolidating operations all across the country,” those who lost their jobs see it differently.
“You can’t blame them [Remington] when a state’s welcoming you with open arms and your home [state], they’re kicking you out the door,” said laid off worker Corey Etwell.
As I mentioned, this subject is of even more interest to me than usual this summer. Ed Morrissey and I talked about this briefly on his show a few weeks back, but I’m still in the midst of a tug of war with the New York Division of Criminal Justice Services over getting some of the numbers regarding gun owners affected by this law. I’ve run into the same situation which Genevieve Wood describes in her article (and what I’ve heard from multiple local reporters), which is that these people do not like to talk about these numbers. And they seem to go to great efforts to avoid doing so, but I’m still pressing the case. Hopefully I’ll be back to you all with details in the near future.
This article was amended to indicate the largest single chapter membership in the state, not overall state membership as was originally stated.