An Urban View on Gun Control After Aurora (and Behagen Park)


Yesterday, Azi Paybarah, Capital New York’s political blogger, wrote a piece (What is the ‘urban conservative’ position on gun control? Anyone?) taking the New York Post and Manhattan Institute to task for not taking stronger public positions on gun control after the Aurora, CO movie theater shootings.

“As a piece of advocacy, the Post editorial was pretty much useless; rousing language signifying nothing, in terms of a discernable position on gun control.”

He complained that the Manhattan Institute “politely but firmly declines to provide anyone to address the subject.”

Since Mr. Paybarah sought to discern what he called the ‘Urban Conservative’ position on new gun control laws, post-Aurora, I sent him my take on his question:

Really? Is that question even necessary?

NY Post headlines demonstrate that despite gun control in NYS/NYC, four year old children still get gunned down. MI can trot out reams of data showing that criminals don’t care about our laws. Let the people of Aurora and NYC mothers to bury their dead before we argue for laws that do nothing to change the fact that their loved ones are dead because of one psychopath and urban sociopaths.

The deadly instrument that night in Aurora was James Holmes. Whether he bought and used a single weapon or purchased 500 rounds of ammo at K-Mart or detonated pipe bombs in the movie theater, his personal demons drove him to commit his deadly act. Criminals, including the mentally ill, circumvent laws that the law-abiding don’t think of doing. Colin Ferguson, who killed Rep. McCarthy’s husband and wounded her son on the LIRR train, lived in a California motel until he could legally purchase his weapon. I don’t think any laws could have prevented him from taking his deadly actions.

When I was in the Assembly, I drafted a bill outlawing the sale of body armor (of the type allegedly purchased by James Holmes) to people other than police or security personnel. The measure was not acted upon, but hours were spent debating a ban.50Cal sniper rifles and micro-stamping ammunition. Had Holmes decided to shoot it out with responding Aurora patrol officers, the carnage would have been even more horrific than what had already transpired in the theater and the movie screen.

I think, however, that strengthening our mental health disease care system is necessary. Destigmatizing mental illness, making it easier to seek help and easing restrictions on involuntary commitment so families can obtain court-ordered treatment for relatives suspected of being dangerous are more necessary than new gun laws. We should be discussing how the ACA (“Obamacare”) will ease access to care for the mentally ill. There were more stories about another celebrity’s (Bruce Springteen) battle with depression (or bipolar disease) than on schizophrenia that attacks males, ages 15-25 years old. To paraphrase James Carville, “It’s mental illness, stupid!”

The assault rifle ban should never have been allowed to expire. Despite its shocking incompetence, the ATFE should be allowed to keep records on gun ownership and related purchases by criminal and extremist organizations. There should be a computer algorithm that red-flags unusual blips in gun and ammo purchases.

I support the Second Amendment because African Americans were the first victims of gun control and were for decades denied the constitutional freedoms enjoyed by others.

The Second Amendment was created as a check on the central government and to preserve freedom. It served as a basis for the Confederate States secession and the mustering of Armies that fought the War Between The States. If, after the terrible Civil War, Congress and the States chose to maintain the Second Amendment, why should we gut it because of the actions of criminals, lone gunmen, and seriously mentally ill people?

Two cops and woman were stabbed recently by mentally ill street people. Have we banned the sale of knives and other sharp instruments? No, we haven’t and no one has proposed such an preposterous response to aberrant, diseased behavior. But neither has any lawmaker proposed fixing our mental health system. Mayor Bloomberg prefers to fight smoking, obesity and alcohol abuse, instead of mental illness. He has ordered city hospitals to encourage breast-feeding by new mothers. Have you heard of a similar order to step up identifying and treating the mentally ill at Rikers, in city shelters, on our streets, and in our homes? “It’s mental illness, stupid!”

The restrictive gun laws of NY, NJ and Connecticut have not spared Tri-state residents from gun violence. We need a fity states compact to halt illegal weapons trafficking and close down gun shops (jail the owners) that flout the gun laws that are already on the books.

I hope my urban view on gun control suffices. For the record, I was an NRA member for a few years (right after former President George HW Bush famously quit in protest of [NRA leader Wayne] LaPierre’s extremist views) so I could understand their viewpoint. My wife asked me to cancelled my membership. I had learned enough and cancelled my membership.

[Interestingly, the National Rifle Association was organized in the aftermath of the Civil War to provide training in gun handling and marksmanship because the soldiers of the Grand Army of the Republic were such poor shooters. Few career criminals are members of the NRA.]

Journalists ought to call President George Bush 41 to get his position post-Aurora. I think GHWB will talk about sensible, uniform gun control laws and endorse the assault weapons ban. But he’ll also mention support for better mental health care services as an additional safety net to catch the John Hinckleys, Colin Fergusons, Dylan Klebolds, Jared Loughners, and James Holmes before they explode into the public consciousness.

Mr. Paybarah just tweeted this –  https://twitter.com/azipaybarah/status/228147016365113344

Which do you think is more critical: new gun laws or a stronger mental illness/disease treatment system?

Leave your comment below.

About SquarePegDem

A former state legislator turned NY Post editorial board member, thought-leader, public affairs consultant and commentator, columnist and blogger. Michael has appeared on Al Jazeera America Tonight, NY1/Inside City Hall, FoxNews.com LIVE, YNN/Capital Tonight, The Brian Lehrer Show, The Fred Dicker Show, The Capitol Press Room, and The Daily Show. His op-eds have appeared in the NY Post, City and State, The Legislative Gazette, Bronx Times, The Troy Record, Buffalo News, and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. To schedule speaking engagements, email MBenjamin9@optimum.net.
This entry was posted in Crime, Health, Media, Public Policy and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s