New York is setting “a deplorable example the rest of the nation should reject in disgust,” the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) said today, after the Legislature voted Tuesday to reduce mandatory prison sentences for drug offenses, while leaving in place some of the most Draconian gun laws in the country.

“Empire State lawmakers must think it’s okay to lighten the load for drug offenders,” CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb said, “while keeping in place laws that literally treat honest firearms owners like criminals. One published report suggested that more than 400 inmates might apply for early release. That should come as good news to citizens already worried about criminals in their neighborhoods.”

“New York is widely known,” added CCRKBA Executive Director Joe Waldron, “as a state in which law-abiding travelers have been hassled, and even arrested, for having legally-owned firearms in their vehicles, when they have done absolutely nothing wrong. It is a state in which law-abiding firearms owners must be ever vigilant so they don’t run afoul of a gun law, and an over-zealous, anti-gun prosecutor.”

“America has a tradition of giving everyone who deserves it a second chance,” Gottlieb continued. “But in New York, gun owners don’t even really get a first chance. They’re run through the legal ringer just in order to purchase and possess a firearm, and woe be unto the unfortunate gun owner who should run afoul of a gun law.

“It makes you wonder what they’re smoking in Albany,” Gottlieb said. “If New York lawmakers want to strike a blow for common sense, instead of loosening up the law on drug offenses, they ought to repeal the restrictive gun laws that have been penalizing honest citizens for generations.

“It says plenty about Gov. George Pataki that he is willing to sign this legislation, while his administration has already established a poor track record on the issue of gun rights,” Waldron observed. “This is a guy who thinks he may run for president in 2008. Lightening up on drug offenders while getting down on gun owners is sure going to appeal to voters across the South, Midwest and West.”