Mayor Bloomberg has it exactly right. Those federal officials who refuse to crack down on the plague of illegal guns in New York City and elsewhere should get calls from the victims of gun violence at all hours of the night. The mayor and his colleagues elsewhere are all too familiar with late-night calls placed to the loved ones of police officers wounded or killed by sociopaths armed with assault weapons and other weapons of mass carnage.
Mr. Bloomberg, a national leader in the crusade against illegal guns, sounded unusually angry and bitter the other day after four police officers were wounded in Brooklyn. The suspect in the shooting had a veritable arsenal of illegal weaponry in his apartment in Sheepshead Bay. His weapons included an assault rifle and high-velocity bullets capable of piercing a shield that the officers deployed during a long shootout.
Luckily, none of the four officers were wounded seriously. But the shootings are part of a disturbing pattern locally and nationally. Seven NYPD officers have been wounded by gunfire this year—the most since 2007, and it’s only April. Nationally, the figures are equally troubling: The number of officers killed in the line of duty is up by 75 percent over the past four years.
All police shootings are an offense against civil society. Not all of them, however, can be traced to the ownership and trafficking of illegal guns. But that particular plague surely is a menace to law enforcement, which is why the mayor has campaigned for serious and sustained crackdowns on illegal weapons. Speaking about the recent shootings in Brooklyn, Mr. Bloomberg noted: “It is a reminder for us to go after illegal guns, not legal guns.”
It is heartening to add that Republicans in the city and surrounding New York suburbs clearly agree with the mayor—which means they disagree with their party’s unholy alliance with the National Rifle Association and other gun lovers. Last year Long Island Congressman Peter King introduced a bill that would have made it illegal to knowingly carry a gun within 1,000 feet of federal officials, including the president. What’s astonishing, of course, is that such a law hasn’t been on the books for decades, if not centuries.
Mr. King joined Brooklyn Congressman Robert Turner and Staten Island Congressman Michael Grimm in voting against a truly insane piece of legislation last year that would have forced states with tough gun laws (like New York) to honor concealed-weapons permits issued in other states. Unfortunately, common sense stopped at the Hudson River—two self-styled moderate Republicans from New Jersey, Rodney Frelinghuysen and Leonard Lance—voted with their party in favor of allowing out-of-towners to stroll through Times Square carrying concealed weapons.
So it’s not just folks from Virginia and Utah who pander to those who stockpile assault rifles and armor-piercing bullets. The gun lobby has friends and water-carriers who live just a few miles from Midtown Manhattan.
The mayor needs to call them out before another cop is gunned down.