The Criss Market in Belmont is a fixture and has been for a long time. All the years that the Crisses had it and all the years that the Carlins had it and now that the Browns have bought it it looks like it’s good for another generation at least.


               They have meat and canned goods, salt-rising bread, of course, and they’ve brought back the salad bar and some days the steam table has beef on weck. It’s always a good place to get a sub or some wings or loaded fries, and on Friday they have fish fry.


               It’s a small-town mom and pop, and they have everything.


               Including bullets.


               On the shelves next to the turkey calls they’ve got shotgun shells, big boxes for turkey and smaller boxes of five slugs each for deer, pretty much all 12 gauge. On another set of shelves they’ve got the rifle and handgun calibers.


               And it’s all on sale. Ten-percent off.


               It’s a clearance sale.


               New state rules are making the sale of guns and ammunition harder all across the state. In fact, a series of state actions seem intended to purposely burden firearms and ammo dealers and push them out of business. Sometimes the war on the Second Amendment is a head-on attack, and sometimes it’s a flanking maneuver. And if the Supreme Court is going to say that New Yorkers have a right to own a gun, New York Democrats are going to do everything they can to keep their neighbors from exercising it.


               For Criss Market, that means the new background checks for ammunition purchases aren’t worth the hassle. For Criss Market’s customers, that means one less place to buy ammunition. For the governor and her party, that means one more win against the rights and culture of their upstate subjects.


               If you make buying and selling guns and ammunition hard enough, it doesn’t really matter what the Second Amendment says. The aggravation factor becomes an ally of the oppressor in suppressing liberty.


               For example, beginning a week ago, any retailer in New York selling a box of ammunition has had to get and save the name, address, age, occupation and workplace of every purchaser, along with a detailed record of every round of every caliber purchased. The retailer is then required to save this information indefinitely, and the information must be available for state inspection. There is no official form, there is no state database, there is just a mandate. A mandate which intrusively gathers personal information, burdens retailers administratively, and ads expense and annoyance to a simple retail transaction.


               It’s not governance, it’s harassment.


               And it makes the casual selling or purchase of ammunition impossible. The hunter who wants to stop off at the Criss Market to pick up a box of shells the night before deer season opens isn’t a bad guy and neither he nor the store should face this sort of crap.


               And that doesn’t even include the still-unspecified background check that will have to be run any time anybody buys any ammunition in New York. Neither does it include the agreement recently reached with credit card companies which will have them track and report to the state all credit and debit purchases for guns and ammunition. That little invasion of privacy is apt to push New York purchasers toward other states and other means of purchasing – further hurting gun dealers. And let’s not forget New York’s various efforts to sue gun manufacturers into bankruptcy.


               If you can’t make or sell guns, you can’t keep and bear arms.


               Now let’s talk semi-automatic rifles.


               The governor’s new requirement that anyone purchasing a semi-automatic rifle have a license to do so creates what, for some people, will be a one- or two-year delay in purchasing the simplest and most innocuous of firearms. Based apparently on the premise that the words “semi-automatic rifle” sound scary, the licensing requirement has been deemed “reasonable” by the Democrats.


               But the necessary license will require digital fingerprints, several character references, a police background investigation, a personal decision by a judge whether or not to issue, the time necessary for the process to be handled administratively, and $140.


               To buy a .22 rifle for plinking, like the one many of us got when we turned 12.


               To New York Democrats, the words “shall not be infringed” are a punchline.


               And common sense is a stranger.


               These new laws are vindictive and punitive, intended as retaliation against conservatives living in the Democrats’ upstate colony. Upstaters dared challenge New York gun laws in the Supreme Court, and payback has been a bitch. But that’s not been the worst part.


               The worst part is that while the Democrats have made legally acquiring guns and ammunition difficult, time-consuming and expensive, illegal guns and ammunition are plentiful, easily acquired and relatively low cost. As they so often do, the Democrats have made obeying the law hard and breaking the law easy.


               And as they so often do, the Democrats have chosen to harass law-abiding citizens and endanger public safety.


               The Criss Market in Belmont is common-sense America. It’s a red, white and blue mom and pop.


               But it is not beyond the reach of oppression. None of us is.

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