I will obey the law.
By January 15, I will register my assault rifle with the New York State Police.
I hate the law, I recognize that it makes me a second-class American, I loathe the governor and the legislature that forced it upon me, and I am certain that it violates the Second Amendment.
But I will obey it.
After 11 months of thought and prayer, after having gone back and forth repeatedly, I have decided to submit.
Not because I am weak, but because I am strong, because the founding principles of this Republic are more dear to me than they are to the partisan tyrants who rule over me.
At issue is the New York Safe Act, the Cuomo gun ban, a middle-of-the-night gutting of the Second Amendment by the petty caesar on the Hudson. Exploiting the murder of children for political gain, Andrew Cuomo forced the most restrictive gun laws in the country on a state whose forefathers went to war to create this nation.
No more than seven bullets in a magazine, background checks for every ammunition purchase, state records created for every bullet sold, no transfer of assault weapons – even as part of an estate – and a mandatory registration of every assault rifle.
That last part has been hardest to swallow.
I bought my assault rifle in New York some 20 years ago. It was legal then, I have owned it legally since, and now, presto change-o, I can either turn it in, sell it out of state, or register it. And when I die, it goes to the state.
Those are the legal options.
The illegal options include simply not registering the gun, and continuing to keep it in my gun safe, or hiding it away somewhere.
For most of the last year, I have thought to do one of the last two things. Either that or find some place over the border in Pennsylvania where I could keep forbidden guns.
I hate this law, it is immoral, it is an assault to liberty, and it is none of the state’s damn business what guns I do or don’t own. In my mind, I have dreamt of a statewide wave of civil disobedience, where thousands and tens of thousands refuse to register their guns.
I do not know if that wave will happen or not.
But I have decided I cannot be a part of it. Not because I agree with the law, not because my opposition to it has ebbed, but because I believe that the only right way to go about things is to do the right thing the right way.
As a practical matter, there are more than enough people in local law enforcement who’d like to fry me that I’m pretty certain some cop of some stripe would have his nose in my gun safe in a heartbeat if it looked like I was ignoring the law in the slightest degree.
But my decision isn’t practical, it is philosophical.
I believe in rule of law. I believe we are partners in a social contract and until such time as a person disavows the social contract and comes out in open rebellion, the contract must be honored. The law must be obeyed. A good citizen must be a good citizen.
I don’t believe that a citizen is morally justified in picking and choosing the laws he obeys. My religion – which I’m notoriously bad at living – teaches that it is the duty of a Christian to obey the law.
Further, and most importantly, the necessity of obeying the law in a republic was forcefully explained by Abraham Lincoln in his famous address to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois. He said that obedience to law must be our national religion, that it was the law which safeguarded our freedoms and that while we should passionately seek to repeal, change or derail the laws we think are wrong, as long as they are the laws we are duty bound to honor them.
In another speech, Lincoln expressed his repulsion at the Dread Scott decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, which said that escaped slaves were not people, they were property. He said the decision was wrong, immoral and unconstitutional, and that people of conscience were obligated to overturn it, but they were obligated to obey it until they did.
Our system must be orderly, it cannot tolerate individuals usurping or nullifying the legislative process and the rule of law.
Sadly, our society has had too much abandoning of that principal in recent years. We have agreed to ignore and flagrantly violate our immigration laws, we have accepted fairly broad-based lawlessness as the norm of our day.
But I cannot do that.
I will obey the law. My governor may not. My president may not. But I will.
I am going to be a good citizen, even if I live under an oppressive government.
I will follow the constitutional principles of the Founders, even if the government does not.
I will obey the law.
Until I can stick it up the backside of the dictatorial governor who passed it.