OP-ED: The Right to Bear Arms Even in Niagara Falls

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The right to bear Arms Even in Niagara Falls

 

BY: Madison Ruffo, Niagara University Student

 

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. – As the topic of gun rights dominates the national conversation, it’s important to consider what affect stricter gun laws could have on the Niagara Falls community.

 

Following the massacre in Parkland, Fla., several individuals and news outlets went out to see just how easy it was to obtain an AR-15 or other assault weapon. Most found that if they’re a law-abiding citizen then they could walk out of a store with an assault weapon within an hour. Helen Ubinas, a reporter for the Daily News in Philadelphia, reported that she was able to purchase an AR-15 in seven minutes.

 

“Seven minutes. From the moment I handed the salesperson my driver’s license to the moment I passed my background check,” said Ubinas.

 

New York is one of the strictest states in terms of gun restrictions. In 2013, New York implemented the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act following the Sandy Hook massacre and a horrific shooting in Webster, N.Y. The N.Y. SAFE Act broadened the definition of “assault weapon” to any semi-automatic rifles, pistols and shotguns, and prohibited the addition of one or more “military-style features” that could turn an ordinary gun into a semi-automatic weapon. It also enacted gun owners to register any assault weapons with the State Police, and created a universal background check provision.

 

In all, the SAFE Act doesn’t make it harder to purchase assault weapons, but puts more accountability on gun owners.

 

According to NeighborhoodScout, Niagara Falls has a crime index of 3. That means that the city of Niagara Falls is only safer than three percent of U.S. cities. FBI crime data from 2015 lists Niagara Falls as the most dangerous city in terms of crime per capita in New York State with 555 violent crimes and a population of only 48,989. “Violent crime” is mainly composed of four categories: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. They’re more broadly defined as “those offenses that involve force or threat of force.”

 

However, of these violent crimes how many of those criminals were carrying an AR-15? Most likely, not many. So what affect would a federal assault weapon ban have on the city of Niagara Falls? Not a significant one. The crime rate in Niagara Falls has little to do with access to arms and is deeply rooted in the economy of the city itself.

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