Editorial Roundup: New York

Auburn Citizen. June 8, 2022.

Editorial: New York takes small steps against big issue of gun violence

We know not everyone will agree, but updated firearms regulations signed into law in New York this week are sensible measures meant to better protect people from becoming victims of gun crimes, not to oppress anyone’s right to own a hunting rifle or keep a pistol at home for personal protection.

In response to recent mass shootings, including one in Buffalo that stole the lives of 10 New Yorkers, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation Monday raising the age to purchase a semiautomatic rifle from 18 to 21. Other changes include a licensing system for semiautomatics, much like the one already in place for handguns, and a tightening of the state’s red flag law that allows courts to remove weapons from the home of people determined to be a threat to themselves or others.

It would be an overreaction to argue that these laws are overly restrictive. It would also be wrong to believe that they will completely solve the growing problem of gun violence.

And that’s the key — that there is no one action that can fix this uniquely American problem, and measures like these are not, despite the protests of firearm lobbyists, a threat to Second Amendment rights. No one is proposing to take people’s hunting rifles and handguns away, these are simply efforts aimed at reducing the potential for horrifyingly violent attacks like the one that happened in Buffalo.

An 18-year-old can still buy a bolt-action rifle or a shotgun in New York — and we have no problem with our many neighbors who own those for hunting — but it’s good to see the state taking the lead on the age limit requirement for semiautomatic rifles, and we hope other states see the wisdom of doing the same.

A package of 10 laws involving firearms being signed in Albany is not going to solve the complex issue of gun violence in New York and beyond, but it’s a whole lot better than doing nothing at all, and something certainly needs to be done.

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Advance Media New York. June 8, 2022.

Editorial: NY lawmakers respond to mass shootings. Now, Congress needs to act

The 10 gun laws signed Monday by Gov. Kathy Hochul might prevent another mass shooting — or they might not. One or a combination of them could be just enough of an impediment to keep a rifle out of murderous hands. Or some provisions could prove unworkable, a product of having been hastily negotiated and barely debated by lawmakers in the waning hours of the legislative session last week.

At least New York’s leaders are trying to do something about the gun violence terrorizing our supermarkets, schools, movie theaters, workplaces, hospitals and other public gathering places. This is in direct contrast to inaction by Congress on the federal gun legislation we really need.

We don’t yet know if the state’s actions will be effective. But doing nothing changes nothing.

Three of the new laws respond directly to the May 14 massacre of 10 Black people at a Buffalo supermarket by an 18-year-old consumed with racist beliefs.

One law requires a permit to buy a semiautomatic rifle, raising the age of purchase 18 to 21 — bringing it into line with the legal age for buying a beer.

Another expands the state’s existing “red flag” law to include a broad range of health providers, including therapists and social workers, who can ask a judge to seize a patient’s weapons if they believe the patient is a risk to himself or others. The law also requires police and district attorneys to seek an order if there is probable cause that a person poses a threat. The killer in Buffalo made a threatening statement at his high school a year ago. He was taken to a hospital for a mental evaluation but was released after he was deemed not a threat to himself or others. No one sought a “red flag” order against him.

A third law prohibits the sale of body armor vests except for a to-be-determined set of professions that need them, such as law enforcement. The Buffalo shooter wore body armor that stopped a bullet fired by a store security guard. The security guard, a retired police officer, subsequently was shot and killed.

Other laws in the package signed by Hochul:

— Make it a misdemeanor crime to threaten mass harm.

— Strengthen background checks and require dealers to keep more stringent records of sales.

— Outlaw possession of high-capacity magazines (over 10 rounds), including the ones “grandfathered in” by the New York SAFE Act in 2013 after the Sandy Hook school shootings.

— Expand the definition of firearm to include guns specifically designed to evade gun control laws.

— Require social media platforms to provide and maintain mechanisms for reporting hateful conduct.

— Establish a task force on social media and violent extremism to study the spread of extremist content and recommend ways to prevent violence inspired by it.

— Require microstamping of handguns to trace ammunition and help police solve crimes.

New York’s strict gun laws can’t stop a determined assailant from buying high-capacity magazines or firearm modifications from other states. This is why common-sense federal laws are needed to close loopholes in background checks, establish a national “red flag” law and limit the availability of high-powered weapons of war.

Restoration of the 1994 assault weapons ban is not in the cards, given today’s politics. But that doesn’t mean Congress should do nothing. There is common ground to be found — if Democratic and Republican lawmakers work hard enough to find it.

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Dunkirk Evening Observer. June 2, 2022.

Editorial: ELECTIONS: Missing pieces to major objectives

Not all of the election reform bills passed recently in the state Senate are bad bills.

But Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, is right to point out a major flaw — no funding to carry out the state’s goals. Senators recently passed a package of legislation that includes a pay increase for election inspectors to $300 and coordinators to $350 in New York City; prohibiting conflicts of interest among board of elections employees; requiring mandatory training curriculum for poll workers; establishing minimum staffing levels for local board of elections; requiring election commissioners to meet certain qualification; making commissioners full-time employees of the board; and creating a way to remove an election commissioner.

The impetus for some of the bills was a botched 2020 House of Representatives election between Rep. Claudia Tenney and Anthony Brindisi that was officially undecided for roughly four months. A state judge ruled Tenney won the race by 109 votes and ordered the results to be certified. The legal battle included a judicial ruling on 1,100 affidavit ballots that were challenged and led to criticisms by the judge overseeing the case of county elections boards in the House district for a series of issues that led to confusion over whether some contested ballots were officially thrown out or not.

Some change is necessary. Elections officials involved in the race between Brindisi and Tenney were inconsistent, confused and ill-prepared to handle a difficult race during an election process made more difficult by quickly written pandemic voting rules. It makes sense to have more training and clearer expectations for local elections officials.

But if the state isn’t going to back the new training and staffing rules with increased funding to local boards of elections, it will be on county taxpayers to foot the bill for new requirements from Albany. The state is being quite generous with its pet economic development and energy projects. It should be as generous to counties that have to spend more to meet the state’s burgeoning elections requirements.

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Jamestown Post-Journal. June 7, 2022.

Editorial: State Has Not Been A Good Partner In Boosting Welfare-To-Work Participation Rates

Despite all the help wanted signs in Chautauqua County business windows, the county’s work participation rate for temporary assistance programs is just a little more than half what it was 10 years ago.

“There are a lot of jobs available, just not a lot of people that are willing to take the jobs at this moment,” said Diane Anderson, Chautauqua County temporary assistance certification director.

There are many reasons for the decrease. Some who are on temporary assistance may have child care issues that keep them from working. Some may have transportation issues. Some may have hit the benefit cliff, a phenomenon that happens when those on public assistance find working isn’t as beneficial to them financially because they lose too much in state-offered benefits. Some may simply be choosing not to work until they don’t have a choice. Some may be holding out for employers to offer higher wages.

Whatever the reason, a 5.7% work participation rate in Chautauqua County is troubling. At least Chautauqua County has only seen a 4.3% decrease in work participation rate.

The state’s paltry 10.8% rate is downright alarming. Ten years ago the state’s work participation rate was 34.2%. It’s worth keeping in mind that nothing changed at the state level during a legislative session in which Democrats in both houses of the state Legislature thought it was worthwhile to pass some truly head-scratching bills, like one that allows EMS responders to provide basic life-saving help to pets in the midst of an EMS shortage. Yet the state’s pitiful workforce participation rate escaped legislative attention.

Chautauqua County officials are working to reverse the county’s low workforce participation rate. We wish we could say the same of Democrats in the state Legislature.

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New York Post. June 4, 2022.

Editorial: The political class is shrinking NY on purpose

Call us the Not-So-Big Apple: Census data show New York City lost a staggering 300,000 residents from April 2020 to June 2021.

NYC bureaucrats argue the 2020-2021 numbers are driven by the COVID response that shuttered schools and sent businesses reeling. Yes, this response was disastrous. People couldn’t shop, work or get their kids educated for months on end, so it’s a miracle more didn’t flee.

And now a mainstay of the city’s life, office work, has changed. Gotham will be lucky to get back to 70% of pre-pandemic office occupancy.

But blaming only COVID lets the authors of the bigger catastrophe off the hook, as the pandemic only accelerated a longer trend. New York’s population has been shrinking for years, more so relative to the nation: We had 45 House seats in 1952, 39 in 1982; next year it’ll be 26.

And now we’re headed off the cliff, as the Empire State has led the country in population decline at least since 2019, with a drop of 1.6% overall year on year as of July 2021. Net migration has since 2010 pushed us back below 20 million.

That collapse comes strictly by design, a result of “progressive” policies that drive up crime, wreck schools and crush small business and the middle classes with regulations, high costs and taxes.

From the Climate Leadership Community Protection Act, which is making it impossible for New Yorkers to pay their electric bills and locking in future supply shortages (i.e., blackouts), to our disastrous Raise the Age and no-bail laws, which have fueled a statewide crime wave, to our bank-busting budgets and state education “leadership” that opposes excellence, progressivism tells anyone who can afford it to leave.

The silver lining for progressives: Those who flee tend not to be their voters, so the left gets to eat up an ever-larger piece of the pie that it’s inexorably shrinking.

Mayor Eric Adams is a more-than-welcome exception on crime, schools and the economy. The opposition he meets in Albany and on the City Council is no coincidence.

The absolute population drop now underway marks a crisis point: Wall Street’s been moving back-office jobs out of New York for years, and now big firms are moving their entire operations away. The markets themselves may stay here, but with vanishingly few people and a lot of computer programs doing the trading.

This fall’s elections may be the last chance to veer from the brink, if enough voters revolt.

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