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ICYMI: Buffalo News Editorial: Gun Laws and a More Sensible Culture Keep This State Safer Than Bloody Texas

Albany, NY – WEBWIRE

Today, the Buffalo News published an editorial on gun violence and how Governor Hochul has strengthened New Yorkís gun laws. Text of the editorial is available below and can be viewed online here.

If itís true that our choices define us - and also understand that doing nothing is a choice - a recent News story shows that residents of this state have cause to be thankful they live here and not in the armed camp called Texas.

Both states suffered terrible tragedies last year. In Buffalo, 10 Black residents were murdered by a racist teenager while, only days later in Uvalde, Texas, another teenager massacred 19 elementary students and two teachers. Both killers used AR-15-style rifles, the preferred weapon of American mass murderers.

In New York the response was prompt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and state legislators saw the weaknesses in the stateís gun laws and moved to tighten them. Among them was New Yorkís red flag law which, had it been implemented against the shooter, might have avoided a terrible tragedy.

But in Texas, the bloodshed and the grieving of an entire community seems to matter not a bit - not officially, anyway. Not only has the state government there chosen to do nothing in response to that human tragedy, its governor has gone of his way to celebrate not just guns, but a murderer from another part of the state.

This is not about the Second Amendment, the Founding Fathersí murky protection of firearms. Itís no more absolute than the First Amendment is. Rights have limits; they may be indistinct and subject to interpretation, but they exist, regardless of the braying of absolutists.

What this is about is priorities: public safety vs. the right to own any kind of weapon; childrenís lives vs. the right to carry firearms designed for mass murder. In New York, there is a willingness to take facts into account, while in Texas, the compulsion, apparently irresistible, is to ignore such facts no matter how much blood is spilled or how young the victims.

Gun laws make a difference. Along with a more even-keeled culture, New Yorkís laws help this a much safer state than Texas is, as stark statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention document. For 2021, the most recent year available, New Yorkís firearm injury death rate was 5.4 per 100,000. The rate in Texas was nearly triple New Yorkís, at 15.6 per 100,000. Similarly, while New Yorkís homicide rate was 4.8 per 100,000, the Texas rate was almost double, at 8.2 per 100,000. Those number tell a tale. The adoration of guns is a predictor of death.

And it is a cultural problem in Texas, as its reckless governor makes abundantly clear. A jury in Austin convicted an individual of murder of murdering an armed man - yes, itís Texas - who was protesting police brutality. But such is that stateís commitment to gun culture - and its hostility to protest - that Gov. Greg Abbott wants to pardon him. Call it further evidence of the nationís rising problem with mental health.

Support for rational gun laws crosses political lines. Even many gun owners understand the need for legitimate controls. The flat rejection of them is mainly the province of the far right, often under the romantic guise of protecting the country from the imaginary risk of attack by their own government.

It didnít work that way on Jan. 6, 2021. Then, it was members of the far right, some of them armed, who sought by means of violence to overturn a fair election in service of a defeated president who had shown his disdain for the Constitution. So part of the value of gun laws is to protect decent Americans from extremists with too easy access to such weapons.

No stateís gun control laws are perfect, as the May 14 murders at the Jefferson Avenue Tops supermarket showed. But neither is any stateís laws against murder. You do what you can.

It would be much more effective for Washington to act, of course. Even with effective state laws, itís too easy to bring in weapons from states that benefit from the gun culture. Again, the numbers document the need. As shows, the United States is an outlier on gun violence, leading all high-income countries and territories with populations of at least 10 million. And leading by far: The countryís rate of 4.12 firearm homicides per 100,000 people is more than double the rate of Chile, in the No. 2 spot at 1.82 per 100,000. Canadaís rate is 0.5 per 100,000; the United Kingdomís, 0.04.

Thatís worse than an embarrassment. Itís malfeasance - a failure to act in the face of facts that are killing Americans. Already this year, the Gun Violence Archive reports 243 mass shootings - thatís about 1.7 per day - and 23 mass murders, or a little more than one per week.

Itís a terrible record of violence and federal indifference. But it makes it good to live in New York.

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