Just when I'm ready to give up on the Democratic Party as
the befuddled servant to a million greedy interest groups, along come the
Republicans to show us what cravenness really means.
fighter, nominal Republican and formidable enemy of illegal street guns. Since
his resounding re-election victory last fall, the mayor has begun to assemble a
spirited national gun-control crusade.
A noble cause, you say?
I'd say so. But for all his trouble, the New York Post reported recently,
the mayor's own party has responded like a crowd of churlish oafs wholly owned
by the National Rifle Association. So angry is the NRA with his effort, says
the Post, it quietly killed the nomination of his girlfriend, Diana Taylor, to
head the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
Although the NRA officially denies this tale, it rings true enough to me.
The group has been on Bloomberg's case for a while now, denouncing his
"rantings" on its Web site and suggesting that he's really just trying deflect
blame instead of fixing the city's justice system so repeat offenders can't
"continue their mayhem."
Of course, one way to ensure that repeat offenders don't wreak mayhem is to
keep guns out of their hands - but never mind. This dispute isn't about logic
any more than the stem-cell dispute is about science. It's about the power of
an interest group to impede what looks to most of us like genuine public
In his inaugural speech last month, Bloomberg spoke of a duty that rises
above politics "to rid our streets of guns, and punish all those who possess
and traffic in these instruments of death." He promised to take his cause "to
Albany, to Washington and to every capital of every state that permits guns to
flow freely across its borders."
This is a big deal. A decade ago, the NYPD matched computers with
shoe-leather police work to help kick crime rates into a free fall. Against the
conventional wisdom, the NYPD showed how tough and informed policing
techniques can play a major role in controlling crime.
We've grown used to the results. Suburbanites and international visitors
alike have discovered New York City as something other than a place to avoid.
New housing and new businesses infuse life into neighborhoods once given up for
dead. It's suddenly possible to dream yet again of a metropolitan region - of
a core city and its surrounding suburbs - that function not as warring camps
but as a healthy and coherent whole. But for how much longer can crime rates
Drugs are still out there. Guns are still out there. For all the new
ability of police forces everywhere, violent crime rates could start to rise
again. In some cities they already have. But when it comes to guns, we know
where the choke points lie.
Eighty-two percent of the city's "crime guns" come from out of state, says
John Fein-blatt, the mayor's criminal justice coordinator. And nationally, he
says, 1 percent of gun dealers account for 60 percent of all crime guns. It's
no wonder Bloomberg would want to shut them down.
Why would the NRA object? And why - if you choose to believe the New York
The NRA objects for the same reason that the United Federation of Teachers
and its Democratic minions in Albany break out in a cold sweat whenever the
subject turns to charter schools or vouchers or merit pay. Reform means
inconvenience to the members. Reform means uncertainty. And these high-powered
outfits have the scratch to stop it.
Can anyone win against them? It doesn't hurt that Bloomberg is worth
billions. He doesn't have to cower to anyone. But I'm not holding my breath.
While he has four more years in office, the NRA - like the UFT - is forever.
Joseph Dolman's e-mail address is email@example.com.