Smith: GUN CONTROL? New York law leads to action in Tennessee

Smith: GUN CONTROL? New York law leads to action in Tennessee

March 4th, 2013 By Robin Smith in Opinion Cartoons

Robin Smith, former Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party and congressional candidate.

National policy does have local implications. A Tennessee manufacturing company is now in the fray because of "gun control" efforts elsewhere.

In recent days, New York has made significant legislative changes making the state the first to implement gun control measures immediately following the tragedy of the mentally-impaired young man murdering the innocent children and adults of the Newtown elementary school.

Included in the legislation signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo were regulations to "fortify New York's existing assault weapons ban" and to "limit the number of bullets allowed in magazines."

Even the New York Times editorial blog assessed Cuomo's rush to regulate as less-than-desirable. "The resulting bill is hard to judge on the merits. It's a snarl of good ideas, strange ideas and ideas that seem quite bad. While some items should figure into federal gun control legislation, Washington should not take New York as an example of how to go about this difficult business," editor Andrew Rosenthal wrote.

In Washington, D.C., U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., reintroduced her Federal Assault Weapons Ban Act. Her sweeping proposal would ban more than 150 firearms classified as "assault weapons" and prohibits the sale or manufacture of "any magazine that is capable of 10 rounds."

In response to New York's new laws, a group of gun manufacturers and ammunitions dealers have given their response. "Sorry."

The list has now grown to 70 firearms businesses that have declared they will not sell to, service, or engage in commerce with a government agency or law enforcement group or individuals in a state with such legislative prohibitions.

Drive about an hour and a half to the northwest of Chattanooga, and you can find the "world leader in large-caliber rifle design and manufacturing" located in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Owner Ronnie Barrett has grown his company over three decades of smart business and now supplies "civilian sport shooters, law enforcement agencies, the United States military and more than 73 State Department-approved countries across the world" with their firearms and munitions.

Barrett is a Tennessee manufacturing company whose name is known throughout the sporting and gun-enthusiast world. The recent political landscape has now put the business in the "gun control" discussion.

On the Barrett website, a post dated Feb. 20, 2013, and titled "Barrett's Position Regarding the Assault on Liberty" offers a statement in response to the flurry of activity: "Barrett opposes those who are illegally disarming the American public from their efficient arms and creating superior armed elitist government agencies."

In addition to the philosophical stance based on the Second Amendment right to bear arms, a consequential policy is also announced. The gun manufacturer made public its new policy: "By current law, Barrett cannot be an accomplice with any lawbreaker, therefore, cannot and will not service or sell to New York government agencies."

As the effort to disarm the citizenry and limit the access to certain weapons stirs the public and political debate, the private sector seems to have an opportunity to prove a bit of a point.

Law-abiding citizens are not our problem. So, are politicians willing to disarm these citizens and sweep law enforcement into the same net as an unintended consequence? Will we see the criminals with the high-caliber and most deadly weapons?

Unintended consequences often result in the policy world. If a law is only functional with exceptions and loopholes, it is not good law.

Robin Smith served as chairwoman of the Tennessee Republican Party from 2007 to 2009. She is a partner at the SmithWaterhouse Strategies business development and strategic planning firm.