Bloomberg's persistent call for gun control

Mayor Michael Bloomberg Mayor Michael Bloomberg Photo Credit: Getty

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Ellis Henican Newsday columnist Ellis Henican

Henican is a columnist for Newsday. He also is a political analyst at the Fox News Channel and ...

'Once again, there's an awful lot of guns out there."

Michael Bloomberg, one of the few politicians in America willing to speak frankly about gun violence, was raising the topic again. How could he not?

A seething middle-aged man, fighting demons real or imagined, had just turned Fifth Avenue and 33rd Street into a free-fire zone.

There would be plenty of time to sort out the depressing details: What exactly set off 58-year-old laid-off women's-accessories designer Jeffrey Johnson? (A feud with a former co-worker.) What signs of instability had he exhibited before? (That remains unclear.) Where did he get the .45-caliber, semiautomatic, seven-shot handgun he carried in his briefcase? (In Florida, 20 years ago.) How many of the injured bystanders were shot by police? (All.)

But two facts were already certain as the mayor and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly concluded their first visit to the shooting scene: Gun violence had taken a new round of victims, and the laws that make it so easy are highly unlikely to change.

Politicians across the political spectrum and across America -- Bloomberg excepted -- refuse to take on the powerful gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association. Many Republicans actually seem to believe the preposterous guns-make-us-safer claim. Most Democrats are too politically timid to fight it.

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And so someone shoots up a movie theater or a Sikh temple or a midtown sidewalk, often with a legal gun or guns -- and a whole nation just accepts the notion that nothing can possibly be done.

The New York mayor can't change that. Not alone, he can't. But give Bloomberg credit for refusing to keep his mouth shut when the bullets fly. "Once again," he said, "there's an awful lot of guns out there."

BANG, BANG

@Newsday

1. Full-metal intransigence

2. Semiautomatic rigidity

3. Double-barreled pandering

4. Pump-action intimidation

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5. Shootout at the Empire State Corral

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Email ellis@henican.com

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