When Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman stepped up to a podium in front of a Franklin Square gun store Thursday, he offered up a unique solution to the frightening reality that there are over 300 million legally owned guns in the nation:
Send 'em to Ukraine!
Blakeman’s plan, announced in a news release Wednesday, was to collect guns from Nassau residents for shipment to a nation under siege and threatened with nuclear annihilation. By Thursday’s event, he’d narrowed his plea down to only "legal" guns and only "long guns," not handguns.
Blakeman made it clear that residents who lack a proper gun to donate can simply purchase one from good old Jerry, the owner of SP Firearms Unlimited, where he staged his show. Blakeman also suggested this movement should not remain local, arguing that if just three-tenths of a percent of all gun owners in the United States donated, we could send a million arms to Ukraine.
And that nationwide angle, along with the kookiness of the idea, the performative nature of its execution, and the searing hunger for publicity, are right on brand for Blakeman.
To be fair, Blakeman’s introduction, stressing the immigration of his Ukrainian great-grandparents, was heartfelt. And it’s true that in Ukraine, although gun laws are highly permissive, most people do not own firearms.
But, Mr. County Executive:
- Why are you collecting small firearms with no assurance that Ukraine's government wants these weapons? Or that it is possible or practical for the United States to deliver them in a timely fashion?
- What will you do with these weapons if they cannot be delivered overseas?
- Why is $25,000 being donated for deadly weapons purchases via the Long Island Chaplain’s Task Force, a move that doesn’t seem so chaplain-y? Is this what the group means when it says its members "provide spiritual, social and resource support" to the local community?
- Why are you touting a private gun dealer?
- And finally, what about your day job?
Since his election and inauguration, Blakeman has used anti-mask moves like his often-irrelevant executive orders to garner national attention for hyperconservative causes. He’s appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show, and on Laura Ingraham’s, trashing Democrats and spewing plenty of the silliest GOP tropes.
Meanwhile, his only answer to the county's assessment woes is yet another audit. County roads are increasingly more pothole than pavement, with the worst of the season yet to come. Nassau is awash in new sales tax proceeds and federal stimulus money, but where is the forward-thinking plan to smartly use the money in a county saddled with long-term fiscal issues and $3.5 billion in debt?
Blakeman might want to focus more on what residents feel guns are doing to Nassau County than what they could do halfway 'round the world, since it’s the crime here at home, as little as it may be, that he ran for office promising to fix.
MEMBERS OF THE EDITORIAL BOARD are experienced journalists who offer reasoned opinions, based on facts, to encourage informed debate about the issues facing our community.