By Larry Keane
For New York City’s Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio, the gun is the problem, not the criminal.
That’s why he focused on New York City’s crime problem by restricting law-abiding citizens’ ability to purchase firearms for self-protection. The mayor announced major “crime reduction” plans twice before and missed by a mile. The mayor’s plan to reduce crime is aimed not at criminals, but those who abide by the law.
New York City crime spiked over the last several months and Mayor de Blasio’s unserious approach has been a major factor. The accidental mayor twiddled his thumbs as crime and criminal firearm misuse rose. His plans to keep citizens safe included a billion-dollar law enforcement budget cut and window dressing gun buyback events. After those proved ineffective, the mayor announced more of the same with a similar plan.
Instead of cracking down on crime, he’s carping on lawful gun owners.
“We’ve come so far to try to keep guns out of the hands of New Yorkers,” the mayor said. “And the Supreme Court, it looks like they’re working overtime to put guns right back in those hands. That really worries me.”
The mayor didn’t say “criminals” or “law-breakers” or “New Yorkers with concerning mental issues.” He said “New Yorkers,” because he believes the gun is the problem, not the operator.
NYC Police Commissioner Dermot Shea also responded to the news of the Supreme Court’s acceptance of hearing the case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Corlett. “We already have a concerted focus on reducing shootings in New York City; adding more guns to our streets is not the answer to reducing violence,” he said following the SCOTUS announcement.
But in 2020, Mayor de Blasio announced his “concerted focus” included a proposed $1 billion cut in police funds.
“I am excited to say that we have a plan that can achieve real reform, that can achieve real redistribution…,” the mayor said. The cuts included reducing school resource officers, eliminating 1,100 police positions, canceling training classes for recruits, paying overtime and even eliminating plans for a new police precinct.
Mayor de Blasio made the announcement right as crime rose and community violence and looting were increasing. It’s no wonder law-abiding New Yorkers had an interest in buying a gun for self-protection.
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Throughout 2020, Americans in historic numbers went to federally licensed gun retailers, passed a background check and purchased a firearm. Stating self-defense as a top priority, 21 million FBI National Instant Criminal Background Checks (NICS) for a gun sale were processed last year, and the pace is continuing in 2021. More than 8.4 million of those were to first-time gun buyers. Mayor de Blasio believes these law-abiding Americans who want to protect themselves, their families and their property are the problem, not criminals on the streets of New York City.
While Mayor de Blasio continues to blame law-abiding gun owners for the crime problem perpetuated by criminals, it’s not surprising he continues to turn his back on law enforcement and police unions. Americans across the country are taking the right for self-protection into their own hands and the Supreme Court’s impending decision New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Corlett may mean New Yorkers will be able to do so in the future without the approval of Mayor de Blasio.
Gun control proposals from Congress have largely stalled, leaving President Joe Biden to announce executive actions. He claims popular support, but recent polls tell a different story. Americans’ appetite for gun control is the lowest it’s been in several years. Politicians singing a gun control tune, including Mayor de Blasio, should exit stage left.
For de Blasio, a focus on law enforcement and safety, punishing criminals for their actions and protecting the citizens of New York City would be a better tune.
Larry Keane is Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association.