New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has spent tens of millions of his billions trying to get his gun bans instituted in the rest of America, even though these laws have never stopped criminals from getting guns. That’s why he has had to resort to policing tactics such as stop and frisk to get the firearms away from the bad guys. Unfortunately, his one area of success is no longer allowed, and he’s looking for someone to blame.
On Thursday, the City Council overrode the mayor’s veto of two bills that will create a New York Police Department inspector general to oversee tactics such as stop and frisk and allow more categories of people to sue the city for racial profiling. Mr. Bloomberg said the vote will lead to minorities being put at higher risk, since they have benefited most from crime reduction.
This political move came less than two weeks after U.S. District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin ruled that the city’s “Stop-Question-Frisk” program was a violation of the Fourth Amendment and considered racial profiling for targeting blacks and Hispanics.
After the Aug. 12 decision, Mr. Bloomberg immediately said he would appeal, pointing out that the judge ignored precedents set by other federal courts around the country that found the tactic fully legal. The mayor said that stop and frisk has resulted in 8,000 illegal guns being taken off the streets in the past 10 years and the murder rate being cut in half since he began his three terms.
“I don’t often agree with Mike Bloomberg, but stop and frisk has made New York City that much safer,” Mike Long, the chairman of the Conservative Party of New York, told me in an interview after the City Council vote. “It has clearly saved the lives of people of color and is absolutely an important tool for making New York City one of the safest cities in the country.” Mr. Long added that without this enforcement mechanism, “we will be like Chicago in very short order.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Bloomberg is so accustomed to blaming the National Rifle Association for all the world’s evils that he tried to link the organization to the plaintiffs in the federal lawsuits. He said last month that the New York Civil Liberties Union’s “priority is not protecting our safety. It is protecting their ideology. And in that regard, they are no better than the NRA.” He also said at the July 15 church event, “The right to bear arms and the right to privacy do not trump the right of citizens to walk down their own street, or walk down their own hallway, without getting blown away.”
“The mayor is totally wrong. He has his own agenda against guns and against the NRA,” said Mr. Long. “We have the toughest restrictions probably in the nation already in New York, so he’s out of order trying to pick a fight with the NRA.”
The NRA is the liberals’ favorite bogeyman. In a column titled, “What opponents of ‘stop and frisk,’ gun control share,” Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen said of the unrelated work of the NRA and the ACLU: “Between the two, guns will remain on the street and more people will die.” Mr. Cohen gives no evidence as to why defending the rights of law-abiding gun-owners leads to more innocent deaths. The headline and association were all that was necessary to leave the reader with a false impression.
Actually, the NRA has never taken an official position on stop-and-frisk policies, nor has it lobbied for or against the tactic. Its 5 million members view it as a gray area in Second Amendment advocacy. The police do not have the right to go willy-nilly down the street, grabbing law-abiding people to check for guns. On the other hand, looking at people likely to commit crime and checking for illegal firearms is a proven method to make cities safer.
The NRA advocates for tougher sentencing for possession of illegal guns. In this regard, Mr. Bloomberg conceded in July 2012 that “The NRA believes — rightly — that enforcing the law means prosecuting criminals to the fullest extent.” Since 2006, New York has had a three-and-a-half year minimum prison sentence for having an illicit loaded gun.
None of the other agenda items on Mr. Bloomberg’s national checklist — assault-weapon and high-capacity magazine bans and background checks for private exchanges — have ever reduced crime. Think about it: If banning guns that have a magazine with more than seven rounds or a pistol grip stopped the bad guys from getting weapons, why does the New York Police Department have to stop and frisk anyone?
The federal appeals court should overturn this absurd ruling that taking illegal guns off bad guys is racist. And Mr. Bloomberg should try harder to hide his disgust for law-abiding gun owners.
Emily Miller is a senior editor of opinion for The Washington Times and author of the forthcoming “Emily Gets Her Gun … But Obama Want to Take Yours” (Regnery, Sept. 3).