When a CBS affiliate reported on Wednesday the existence of a hotline that anonymous callers in New York state could use to report neighbors who possibly might illegally possess a firearm, some claimed the timing with the recent passage of New York's SAFE Act was just too coincidental.
The new law will turn many gun owners into outlaws on April 15, when the law goes into effect. It bans the possession of any firearms magazines that can contain more than seven rounds. It requires all citizens who own “assault weapons” to register them with the state. It allows law enforcement officials to “preemptively seize a person’s firearms without a warrant if they have probable cause [that] the person may be mentally unstable or intends to use the weapons to commit a crime.” (Emphasis added.)
Many gun owners will automatically become criminals on April 15 unless they bring themselves into compliance prior to then. Some gun owners have announced that they won’t comply with the new law. Of course, many are already suspicious of the motives of Governor Andrew Cuomo and his allies. They rushed the bill through the legislature in Albany in January following closed-door negotiations that eliminated any committee hearings and suspended the three-day rule allowing public review of all bills. So to many gun owners, suddenly reviving an already-existing anonymous tip hotline by publicizing it just seemed a little suspect.
The tip hotline has been maintained by the state of New York for more than a year. It was announced back in February 2012 as one of four programs initiated for the stated purpose of reducing gun violence. Specifically, the announcement included “creating a toll-free tip line to encourage citizens to report illegal firearm possession.” But nothing much was made of the matter at the time, with many law enforcement agencies not even aware of the tip line until last Wednesday. John Grebert, the executive director of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, which boasts of close ties to the Cuomo administration, took credit for reviving the tip line:
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