Letter: Who Will Enforce Gun Storage?

I am writing in response to the letters and coverage lately regarding the mandatory storage law for firearms proposed to the Philipstown Town Board. I understand the passionate position that some in our country take on this issue, but this proposed ordinance is flawed in a multitude of ways.

Any citizen with a basic understanding of constitutional law realizes that attempting to restrict what goes on inside the walls of someone’s home goes against the spirit of the Bill of Rights. Plus, it is unenforceable. Will the Town Board be tasked with enforcement? Will the sheriff’s department? Will the town be appointing a firearm storage inspector?

The wording of the ordinance seems to be copy-and-pasted out of a national campaign to destroy gun rights. In fact, a cursory search of the internet finds that this cookie-cutter ordinance is being pushed in select communities throughout New York and has been abandoned over and over. One community recently dropped it after it was pointed out that by restricting law-abiding gun owners access to their firearms, the town council was in effect accepting liability if a gun owner were harmed or injured by an intruder. Does the Philipstown Town Board want to assume that liability?

Every responsible gun owner understands the need to protect children by locking up their unattended firearms. This is already enforced by numerous state and federal laws, as well as the Putnam County permitting process — not to mention common sense.

I ask that the Town Board focus on the real needs of our community — of which there are many — and not become embroiled in lobbyist issues such as this, especially ones that may open our community and taxpayers to undue legal matters. Our taxpayer money is better spent elsewhere.

Michael Bowman, Nelsonville

5 thoughts on “Letter: Who Will Enforce Gun Storage?

  1. This is a reasonable letter. I would like to hear a legal take from a lawyer licensed in the state of New York as to the various arguments for and against this proposal.

    However I do think educational programs as they have been mentioned, are immediately desirable, independent of and in advance of any decision on legislation.

  2. I don’t see how this is taking away rights or making the town board liable for anything. It is the right of the gun permit holders to have a pistol readily available to them at their residence when they are home.

    In order to get a pistol permit you have to take a gun safety course. At this course they teach you to keep your gun safe and secured when not in use. So if the permit holder is not at the residence the guns should be safe and secured whether you’re a mile or one hundred miles away from your home.

    What seems scary is that we haven’t heard more than one gun owner say yes this is how we keep our guns when we’re not home.

  3. I think everyone was in agreement at the Town Board Meeting last week that responsible gun owners keep their weapons locked away already. As you point out it is ingrained into every gun owner by training, the permitting process and common sense.

    Bob Tendy made it rather clear and succinct when he said it’s not in the purview of the Town Board, this proposed law is superseded by other state and federal laws, it violates an individual’s 4th Amendment right against unlawful search and seizure, it’s utterly unenforceable and ultimately opens up the Town to undue legal costs.

  4. Does anyone else wonder about this apparent contradiction in the argument of those opposing the gun safety law: On the one hand, responsible gun owners already keep their weapons secured (so we are told), so they are already compliant with the proposed law. On the other, keeping their weapons secure would impede access to them in the event an intruder were to break into the home (so we are told). Assume for a moment that the primary purpose of having a weapon in one’s home is to defend oneself against intruders. The responsible gun owners then seem to be putting themselves in harms way, by not being able to have proper access to their weapons. This suggests to me that the delayed-access issue is contrived to frame a legal argument, but has no basis in reality. (And I suspect you responsible gun owners know it.)

    I would urge everyone in this debate to bear in mind the terrible cost of children being killed in gun accidents where weapons are not properly secured. This is real, folks. A good friend of mine lost his 10-year-old son 20 years ago when the boy was fooling around with an unsecured rifle with a buddy.

    The argument that the proposed law is unenforceable because the offense would be hidden, in the home, makes no sense to me. There are many offenses that occur out of sight of the law. When they are discovered — as in the aftermath of a killing — they can be prosecuted. Making something a legal requirement is just they push many people need to do what they should do anyway — like fasten that seat belt, or secure that gun.

  5. To Mr. Armstrong’s point, aren’t exposed electrics interior wires illegal? Yet, responsible homeowners know to not leave exposed wires around because that is common sense. And by their nature they are interior — exposed wires are inside a home. I don’t think there is an enforcement problem keeping wires from being exposed.

    Since this is a gun-related regulation and not an exposed-wire regulation, some people will automatically jump to wild conclusions of constitutionality and personal rights.

    It would be great to have a civil and open discussion about the topic of gun safety. It would be great for that discussion to happen in a public forum in a venue at a time that is convenient for lots of people, with the ideas of informed, rationale people from across the political spectrum.

    And it would be great if that event could be intimidation-free and focused on the here-and-now and the current proposal and not on slippery slopes, arbitrary positions of non-negotiability, and tantrums.

    I would love to be part of that.