A week after the killing of Officer Randolph Holder with a gun believed to have originated in South Carolina, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton railed against what he called “insanity” on Capitol Hill and the “stranglehold” he claimed the National Rifle Association has on Washington, D.C., which he argued was to blame for a lack of federal gun laws and the easy importation of guns into New York City.
The commissioner appeared beside Mayor Bill de Blasio and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance at One Police Plaza to announce the indictment of six gun traffickers and the seizure of dozens of guns that are banned under New York State law. For legal reasons, they could not say whether the traffickers were involved in Mr. Holder’s shooting in East Harlem last Tuesday. Mr. Bratton argued that his department’s efforts would remain a mere clean-up effort so long as the so-called “Iron Pipeline” of weapons from less-regulated states into New York City continued to flow unobstructed by federal rules.
“The issue remains a significant problem, and the reason it remains a significant problem is the easy and replete accessibility of huge amounts of firearms, particularly from down south. And our efforts up here, we’re trying to deal with it up here, but we have a spigot that’s wide open down there, and we don’t have arm or the ability to shut that spigot down there,” he said.
Asked about what sort of regulations stood a chance of getting passed in the Republican-dominated Congress, Mr. Bratton sounded a hopeless note.
“Personally, I have no faith in the Congress of the United States on this issue at all. They’ve been beholden to the NRA for most of my career in policing, I don’t see any movement away from that stranglehold that the NRA has,” he said, blaming the gun rights group’s lobbying influence.
The commissioner said he, the mayor, the D.A. and their allies would continue their lobbying efforts, but his despairing attitude seemed to linger.
“We need to still keep trying, still keep trying to chip away. Because each time we lose a life, in this case, our minds are very much on the life of the young officer we just lost, it still amazes me the insanity of the United States Congress, that they just don’t get it,” he said. “And I don’t know why they don’t get it, except basically they’re constantly down there with their hands out to the NRA for more and more money, and it’s just insanity.”
Mr. de Blasio seemed to have more faith in the system, claiming he had seen “stirrings” of bipartisanship on other issues.
“It should not take another death of a police officer to change our policies, or another horrible campus massacre to change our policies. We have to call for change now. And I know, again, that people look at the current political environment in Washington and think it’s impossible,” he said. “I know this is a tough issue, but we have to call for the change to protect our people, protect our communities, protect our police officers.”
Mr. Bratton acknowledged that New York City’s delegation was largely pro-gun control, but remained somber in his outlook.
“This Congress, I wish I could be more optimistic, but there’s not much to be optimistic about this Congress, is there?” he asked.