A Legislative Column from Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney (R,C,I-New Hartford)
August 3, 2012
The governor’s recent statement, opposing New York City’s Stop-and-Frisk policy, is appropriate. The Stop-and-Frisk initiative, which is utilized by City police to detain and search so-called suspicious individuals for drugs and illegal firearms, blatantly disregards the liberties and freedoms we as Americans hold dear. An individual is innocent until proven guilty and should not be considered a criminal by authorities because of the time of day, the street they are on or their ethnicity. That is not to say that the Stop-and-Frisk program has not been successful in confiscating numerous illegal firearms and drugs and arresting criminals. However, a fine line exists between allowing Americans to live with the freedoms guaranteed to them by the Constitution, and the potential for the criminal elements in our society to force governments to compromise our freedoms in the name of public safety. The Stop-and-Frisk policy is an example of this. So are New York’s draconian gun laws. There are strong correlations between a populace having the right to bear arms and the amount of crime in the communities. States with less restrictive gun laws than New York have significantly lower violent crime rates. Period. The dangers presented to New York State communities by criminals cannot be prevented by denying its citizens their fundamental rights to defend themselves against said criminals. There is a reason crime rates are lower in other states. The potential victim just might shoot back. Our anti-firearm government has created an environment that coddles criminals and punishes law-abiding citizens. Instead of Stop-and-Frisk, New York City and New York State need a “three strikes and you’re out” initiative, which was proposed but rejected by downstate liberals. Under such a policy, repeat offenders would be incarcerated for a lengthy period of time. Anyone who uses a gun in the commission of a crime should also face heavy penalties. New York does not have a gun problem – it has a criminal problem. It is time to attack those who prey on society, rather than restrict the rights of law-abiding New Yorkers. If we continue to allow our government to legislate against the implements used in crimes – in violation of our Constitution – rather than focusing on those who commit the crimes, we will have failed as a society to uphold the beliefs of our founding fathers and disgraced the sacrifices of those who have died protecting our freedoms and liberties. New York needs to remember its history. As Benjamin Franklin said, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” New York is in crisis because our government is over-regulating law-abiding citizens on too many issues. Initiatives like Stop-and-Frisk and restricting New Yorkers’ Second Amendment rights are symptomatic of a culture and government that can neither provide safety to its citizens, nor uphold the principles upon which this great nation was founded.