- The Washington Times - Friday, September 21, 2007

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

As a former prosecutor, federal judge and, most recently, director of the FBI, I’ve spent my professional life devoted to protecting two things — the American public and the Constitution of the United States. Doing both in concert can be a tenuous balance, but it is a balance that is critical for our next president to understand — and understand deeply. With a lifetime of experience in justice and security, Rudy Giuliani does.

Rudy’s approach in this arena can be described by three commitments that most all Americans share: a commitment to keeping America strong and secure, a commitment to preserving and protecting the Constitution, and a commitment to protecting the rights of law-abiding citizens.

While it’s easy to talk about these almost universally popular ideals, no candidate running for president, Republican or Democrat, has a resume even close to Rudy’s when it comes to actually implementing them.

I met Rudy more than 25 years ago as a young prosecutor privileged to work with and learn from one of the most effective U.S. attorneys who has ever served our Justice Department. And since I’ve known him, Rudy has been guided by the belief that public safety is the most fundamental civil right. Without it, all other rights become obsolete — the right to speak freely means little if fear renders you unwilling or unable to step outside your home. That truth is what makes personal safety, and by extension, law enforcement, so critical. And it’s why what Rudy Giuliani did for New York City is one of the most important, and successful, examples of conservative governance this country has ever seen.

When Rudy took office, New York was the crime capital of America, averaging 2,000 murders a year and 11,000 major crimes a week. New Yorkers were abandoning their decaying city in droves — it simply was not a place that people wanted to work, live, or raise a family. To deal with a city where crime was rampant, then-Mayor Giuliani used existing laws to get illegal guns (responsible for about three-quarters of New York’s homicides) out of the hands of criminals. And it worked. During his eight years in office, New York saw its murder rate fall by 66 percent and the FBI Crime Index drop by 56 percent, making New York City the safest large city in America.

To measure his success as mayor, you can look at the statistics and you can study the numbers — they are that impressive. But you can also talk to any taxicab driver or doorman in the city, or any of the millions of tourists who visit New York, and they will tell you that New York City is now not just a great city, as it has always been, but a safe city. And that is because of Rudy, his police department and his commitment to fighting crime.

Mr. Giuliani believes, as do I, that the best way to deal with gun crime is to aggressively prosecute criminals and enforce the laws already on the books. And as president, Mr. Giuliani will make sure that if someone commits a crime with a gun, they will go to prison for the mandatory sentence.

We must have a zero tolerance policy for gun crimes — no exceptions.

The reality is the Second Amendment protects a freedom as important — and as clear — as any other written into the Constitution. And those committed to the defense of that Constitution will find much to like about a President Rudy Giuliani. His focus is straightforward and constitutionally sound — protecting our communities by getting guns out of the hands of criminals, putting those criminals behind bars and preserving the rights and freedoms of law-abiding citizens.

Louis Freeh, a former director of the FBI, is chairman of the Giuliani campaign’s Homeland Security Advisory Board.

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