If a law is unjust, citizens have the moral authority to ignore it, right?
So it is in the Empire State, where hundreds of thousands of people – perhaps a million – are ignoring New York State’s “SAFE Act” requiring the registration of what they call “assault-style” weapons.
Since it went into effect in January 2013, there have been a total of 23,847 people registering their firearms in New York. The weapons they’re required to register – the ones they call “assault-style” can be anything from an SKS to a gun with a pistol grip – there’s no rhyme or reason to it.
It took a while to get the actual registration information. The public and the media have been asking for the numbers for a while. It took a judge to order their release.
Critics believed that was an intrusion into their privacy, and as the logistics of tracking the registration became clear, many predicted that only a handful of people would actually register their guns.
While there is no firm count, observers have estimated there could be hundreds of thousands or even a million assault-style weapons in New York.
In Connecticut, which later passed a similar registration law, 50,016 weapons have been registered.
But with a population five times that of the Nutmeg State, fewer weapons have been registered in New York, suggesting widespread non-compliance – up to 95 percent
Additionally, local police including several county sheriffs, have opposed parts of the SAFE Act and suggested that enforcement of the registration component was not a priority.
From the Birmingham County Jail, Martin Luther King wrote: “One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.“