Well, Andy, with a handful of minutes to spare, I have complied with your law.
Your hateful, unconstitutional affront to my rights.
After a year of thinking it over, of going back and forth, of deciding where duty and honor called me to be, this is where I am.
I am ashamed to say that fear was one of the factors in my decision. I am a public person, it is well known that I own an AR-15. I wrote a newspaper column about it when I bought it 20 years ago. I have talked about it on the radio, on television and in web broadcasts ever since.
Further, I’ve got a Democrat district attorney – whose election I opposed – and half the cops in town hate me. So if I don’t register today, there’s a good chance I get arrested tomorrow.
And with five kids still at home, I can’t afford to be the test case.
I’d be a felon, I’d lose my job, I’d lose my house, I’d lose my right to vote and own guns.
And you’d win.
But it wasn’t just fear.
It was also something Abraham Lincoln said once, and something I said once.
Not that you would know, care or understand, but long ago Abraham Lincoln said that obedience to law was the American religion, that it should be taught to babies on their mothers’ knees, that it was the duty of every free man.
He said that unjust and immoral laws should be fought but obeyed. He said that citizens of a Republic cannot pick and choose the laws to which they are obedient. He said they must never tolerate unjust and immoral law, but they must tear them down through constitutional and lawful means.
That’s what Lincoln said.
What I said was that I would uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic – and that I would “bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”
I swore a lifetime oath when I enlisted in the armed forces of the United States to defend the Constitution and to live it.
And part of the dilemma of your hateful Safe Act is that it is on both sides of the constitutional line. It violates the Second Amendment, but operates within the structure of legislation and judicial review. I reject it, but I do not yet want to reject the system which produced it and which has yet to nullify it.
So conscience has me here.
But conscience will let me go no further.
You may be emboldened by your victory in this matter, you may be confident of taking control of the state Senate in the fall, but you should be aware you have pushed things as far as they can be pushed.
If you back a dog into a corner, at some point it bites, and if you listen carefully across this state you can hear a growl.
There were alternatives to registering my AR-15, but none of them were acceptable to me. I could sell it, but then I wouldn’t have it. I could modify it, but then I would lose the functionality I sought when I bought the gun. I could give it to relatives out of state, but then it wouldn’t be very useful to me when I needed it in a fight.
Which is why I bought my AR-15.
It is a fighting gun. It is, in fact, an assault rifle. I bought it for its intended purpose – near- and medium-range combat.
It is not for hunting, I have guns that do that better. It is not for target shooting, again, I have guns that do that better. It is a not a hobby implement or a status symbol, it is a tool of battle.
And though it’s been a long time since the Army qualified me Expert on this weapon, I think I still get the general idea. And I still want it close at hand.
And if I have to tell you the serial number to do that, at this stage I’m willing to comply. You’ve had the serial numbers of my pistols for a quarter century – another unconstitutional intrusion – and I’ve gotten by. Until freedom truly rings in this country, and a real civil rights movement advances all freedoms, I’ll bow to your power.
But recognize that this is the end.
The fear is that registration leads to confiscation. We shouldn’t fear the consequences of that, Andy, you should. Because when you come for the guns it won’t be the Capitol in the dark of the night, it will be Lexington green in the full light of day. We won’t think of Abraham Lincoln, we’ll think of Charlton Heston.
So we’re clear, Andy, the next step is cold, dead hands.
You ought to pull your head out of your arse long enough to recognize that if you turn up the heat under the pressure cooker it’s apt to blow.
Your arrogance and ignorance have left you blind to the culture and values of the vast majority of your state. You have no idea who we are or what we believe in. All you know to do is to mock us and demean us. Across most of upstate, we don’t have a governor, we have an overseer. You don’t give a damn about us, and the feeling has turned out mutual.
Simply put, we hate you back, Andy.
Me more than most.
My family had been in upstate more than a hundred years when your folks got to Ellis Island, and we’d been downstate some 200 years before that. It doesn’t seem plausible you’re in a position to tell us what New Yorkers value, feel or believe, or to force chains on us our ancestors fought to remove.
And, to be honest, your privileged life doesn’t quite qualify you to expound on American freedoms. I don’t believe you are a veteran, and I don’t believe any blood member of your family has ever served in the U.S. military.
That doesn’t mean anything, of course, unless you happen to be a veteran, in which case it means everything.
You are a tyrant, sir, and you have lost the affection and confidence of people like me.
Which I’m sure means nothing to you.
But you whipped us down on this one. I’ve registered my AR-15. The dog is cowering.
But if you listen you can hear the growl.
And you may yet feel the fang.