Another take on the tragic shooting death of Officer Peter Figoski, highlighted by the New York Daily News' reporters Edgar Sandoval & Corky Siemaszko yesterday, was that the gun came from Virginia gun store, Dance's Sporting Goods-as did the weapon that killed 9-month-old Rayvon Jamison 21 years ago.
The story noted that the courts sided with the right of the Virginia store to follow, basically, the gun laws of that state, and that there was not fault to be found, even though both weapons were allegedly lost by the original buyers. And even that both turned up on the black market for guns here at the other end of the gun-runner's I-95 corridor.
This is not a new problem. New York City has some of the tightest gun control laws in the land, and a correspondingly lower gun-death rate than those where gun laws are more lenient. That said, every locality has the right, at least for now, to set these laws as they see fit. I agree with that. If you want to carry and own guns, fine, but obeying the law of your locality is not optional.
I realize I am wading into a tricky bit of constitutional law here as the second amendment is a hot-button item for all. The voters at the Daily News poll are pretty split on tougher laws. About half say we should have tougher laws, about half say it keeps good citizens from arming themselves.
That, of course, is the rub. Sure, own a gun if you want, as long as you don't go out and shoot someone for no good reason-the only one being self-defense. Good citizens don't do that. Good gun-owners (and I know many) don't do that. Upstanding, moral, even-tempered-that's what it takes to own a gun. It also takes respect. A gun is not a hammer, if is a tool for killing. If you are waving that thing around, or leaving it unlocked and loaded where anyone in your house can get a hand on it, you are not respecting the gun. You shouldn't be allowed anywhere near one. There is nothing more dangerous than a person who thinks a gun is not serious business.
In the early days of this nation, and today, too, in the countryside where guns are still part of daily life, most people around them understand that.
But, and I know I am wandering from the strictest interpretation of the second amendment here-although there is plenty of legal debate even about that-I have a big problem with guns in crowded cities. Too often innocent bystanders wind up shot, bullets go awry. And really, how many crimes would be prevented by them, when police are so near?
It's easy to say, if someone had a gun, that criminal could have been stopped. But that's just hypothetical. Someone has to draw and fire and hit that criminal. It's not like in the movies.
Even trained policemen, who are armed, have a tough time doing that under fire-in a split-second. Even in places in the land where guns are easy to own and carry, it is a rare event when a criminal is blasting away and someone stops him, or her, with a gun. Look at the tragic shooting (and miraculous survival) of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Arizona has very easy gun laws, but no one in the area, apparently, had a gun, or managed to squeeze off a shot. Unarmed bystanders eventually subdued Jared Loughner, who has been charged with the murder attempt as well as multiple slayings that tragic day.
The point: It is easy to point to self-defense as a good reason to allow people to carry guns around. But a lot harder to point to times when they actually served that function. Especially in our crowded cities, there seems to be less-and-less reason, or justification for allowing the public to go armed. And, in any case, localities should be allowed to determine the gun laws that suit them best.
And I think most people, save for the most extreme pro-gun elements, would agree with that.
What then to do about gun-trafficking? That is when the issue becomes truly complex.
That said, it is now being addressed by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who recently announced this month that she will back a bill to target those gun dealers and criminals involved in bringing guns illegally into New York State. This follows a probe by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, which showed how easy it is for people to buy illegal guns in New York.
Personally, I'd like to see a really hard crackdown on those who allow thugs to kill our police, innocent bystanders and terrorize our neighborhoods thanks to these illegal weapons: One strike and you're out-for life.