BY EDITORIAL STAFF
New York City’s gun-control laws are among the strictest in the nation, and a majority of the shootings that take place in the city are the result of weapons being purchased out of state, according to the president of an organization focused on public safety policies.
The PRESS of Southeast Queens spoke to Richard Aborn, president of the nonpartisan Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, in the wake of the Oct. 1 shooting in Las Vegas that claimed the lives of 58 people and wounded more than 500 others. Aborn said that the city’s gun-control laws have resulted in a low rate of shootings.
“New York has a remarkably low rate of shootings,” he said. “In my mind, [New York City’s set of gun laws] is the model of what gun laws should look like nationally. And New York has had, since 1911, a very strong gun-control law. It’s a very strict licensing and registration scheme, and it has been quite successful in preventing criminals from acquiring guns in New York.”
Aborn said that the vast majority of guns that are used in crimes in the five boroughs come from outside the state. According to a 2015 study by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the largest number of illegal guns make their way to New York from Virginia. Other states that have high numbers of illegal guns making their way to the Empire State include Pennsylvania, Georgia and Florida.
And the state attorney general’s office reported that a total of 52,915 guns were retrieved by law enforcement officers between 2010 and 2015 in New York State. Approximately 74 percent of the weapons originated out of state.
“The problem we have is that the states that surround New York, particularly those up and down the eastern corridor along I-95, which we affectionately call the Iron Pipeline, don’t have the same level of laws, so we’re flooded with illegal guns,” Aborn said. “New York is a perfect illustration of why we need national gun-control laws because the reality is, in New York, if you’re a law-abiding citizen, you can get a gun. Our laws in no way interfere with someone who has no criminal record in getting a gun.”
He added that New York State has a ban on assault weapons and large magazines. From 1994 to 2004, the United States had a similar ban on weapons that hold more than 10 rounds.
“This is not complicated,” Aborn said. “Everybody’s scratching their heads, saying, ‘Oh my God, what should we do?’ The answer is simple: Renew the ban on assault weapons. Renew the ban on large magazines and get these guns back off the streets. Civilians don’t need assault weapons. There are plenty of other weapons out there to go hunting with, to do target shooting, and plenty of other weapons for self-defense. You don’t need an Uzi under your pillow to protect yourself.”
Readers Voice Their Opinions On Gun Violence, Second Amendment
Last week, the PRESS of Southeast Queens wrote an editorial on the plague of gun violence on the United States and whether the Second Amendment needed revision to make it better reflect today’s world.
This week, we’ve included some comments we received from readers on the subject, and we encourage more readers to send their thoughts on gun control to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Artie Wood, Woodhaven:
I read the front page of this week’s Queens Tribune. I couldn’t have written it any better. The thesis that we are not colonies fighting for our independence is so true. We are fighting against ourselves with guns and different causes. This is divisive in our nation, rather than bringing unity.
Vincent Arcuri, Community Board 5 chairman
Our founding fathers did not create the Second Amendment “to protect the colonies…against an invading enemy…” but to protect the colonists from a tyrannical government. We were at the time British subjects, subject to the whims of a tyrant in London. When Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany, one of the first things he had his government do was to have all the citizens register their weapons. Once they knew where every weapon was, they were then confiscated. The people of the Warsaw Ghetto were an example of citizens banding together against a tyrannical government. The nation of Israel was founded by armed citizens fighting for their freedom, even to the point of making their own weapons. The only thing that keeps a government honest is the fear that the armed masses could revolt against tyranny.
Congratulations on your editorial about the need for Americans to examine our social attitudes and campaign for strict gun control laws. It is long past the time for honest talk on curbing guns. Individuals may feel they have a “right” to bear arms. But in civilized society, the general social good far outweighs the rights of the individual. And the good of society is best served by our well-trained police and armed forces. It is nonsense to say that a gun “protects” its owner. America is now a heavily urbanized society where mass gun ownership only benefits the NRA and the arms dealers. Since every member of Congress is paid off by big corporations, I am afraid [that] Congress’ only response to the Las Vegas tragedy will be to call for prayers for the victims—a nice, timid response that only benefits the gun lobby.
You asked what we have become. We need not rid ourselves of guns because we as a society have become morally dead. For generations, we have had guns and never seen acts carried out like the ones we see today. We must take responsibility as individuals and citizens alike and stop blaming violence and murders on guns. They are merely implements of warfare. If we stopped producing guns tomorrow, it would do nothing to slow down gun violence.
The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution states: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Obviously, the need for a state militia has been replaced by the National Guard and Coast Guard, whereby trained military personnel are entrusted with the defense of this country against domestic enemies.
The only two reasons for a citizen to own a firearm are for hunting or defense of the household from intruders. In either case, ownership of a handgun, shotgun or rifle is more than adequate to satisfy these purposes. There is absolutely no need for any U.S. civilian to own any weapon more powerful or sophisticated than these.
Frederica Sagiani, retired NYC educator
I commend you on your public stand against guns in our city and across America. I also appreciate your stand not to take blood money from the gun lobby. It is unfortunate that so many people confuse the rural America of the 18th century with the reality of urban life today. Guns are rampant and easily available. What a violent society we have created, and you are right to question our civility and our ability to cultivate civility in our youth, especially in urban settings, where guns are everywhere.