Raise your hand if this news surprises you: The New York affiliate of the National Rifle Association sued the state on Thursday over a new set of gun control measures that it says puts citizens' in harms way. The lawsuit specifically targets provisions in the legislation championed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in the days after the Sandy Hook school shootings that lowers the maximum capacity of magazines and adds a few new models of assault rifle to the list of banned weapons. According to the NRA, these restrictions violate citizens' Second Amendment rights.
So who's surprised? Hands? Anyone? Everybody should've seen this coming. But even if you didn't, this marks an escalation in the fierce tug of war between the gun industry and proponents of tightening gun control laws in the wake of several terribly deadly mass shootings. Now that the NRA is aggressively going after legislation on a state level the national conversation about gun violence only stands to get more convoluted. That conversation, after all, is no stranger to misinformation — or misleading information.
Take the NRA's protest to the New York law. "Criminals have and use magazines without any limitation in capacity," the NRA's lawsuit reads. "The act's provisions on magazines put law-abiding citizens at a grave disadvantage to criminals, who will not comply with the seven-round limit" So New York citizens are at risk because criminals can buy illegal gear? But without the ban, it would be even easier for criminals to get ahold of these things. Criminals can also presumably get even more illegal guns, say fully automatic assault rifles. Should we make those legal too so that the American public can compete in some insane arms race?
Those are all honest questions. The truth is, nobody knows the secret to solving gun violence. The 1994 ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines is correlated with a drop in gun violence, but experts say that's largely due to other factors. It's equally as difficult to know what the effect of a new ban would be. One study from Johns Hopkins says that 80 percent of the handguns used in violent crimes came from unlicensed dealers, black market or otherwise. The honest truth of it all is that criminals who really want guns can get guns. And citizens can do the same. These days, criminals and citizens alike can even print illegal gun parts from the safety of their own homes.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.