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New York Battles Against Illegal Guns

  • Peter Fedynsky

Most of the guns used to commit crime in New York City are illegal weapons, brought in from other states. In recent months, such weapons have been used to shoot eight local police officers, one of them fatally. Most recently, four officers were wounded on Sunday as they tried to rescue a woman taken hostage with a four-month-old baby. New York officials are seeking federal help to stop the online sale of illegal firearms.

Honors for a New York City police officer, one of eight shot with an illegal weapon over the past four months. This public outpouring was for an officer, killed while responding to a robbery last December. Mayor Michael Bloomberg accuses federal authorities of not enforcing existing laws that prevent gun sales to minors, individuals with psychiatric or drug problems and criminals.

“The disgrace is, the federal government has left some loopholes where it’s hard to enforce their own laws and they don’t fund any of the enforcement," said Bloomberg.

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says nearly 90 percent of the firearms used to commit crime in New York City are from out of state, and most are illegal. Some of the illicit weapons are available online. Late last year, undercover investigators conducted a sting on 10 web sites in 14 states where guns could be purchased without required background checks.

Gun buyer: “No background checks, anything like that?”

Gun dealer
: "No, I'm just a private person."

Gun buyer: Oh, that's good, 'cause I probably couldn't pass one."

Gun dealer: ”I probably couldn't either."

Many gun advocates say an armed citizenry prevents the establishment of tyrannical government, which they say is worse than the shooting of innocent people.

“The bad things that happen with guns in the hands of private people is nothing compared to what happens when the government has a monopoly of firearms," said Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America.

Mayor Bloomberg characterizes Pratt’s argument as “dumb,” noting that on average, 34 people are killed in the U.S. with illegal firearms every single day. The mayor adds that since pro-gun organizations argue the government should not pass new gun laws, but should enforce those already on the books - he is challenging those groups to join the effort to enforce existing laws.