Imagine a bully under investigation for multiple accusations of sexual misconduct. Say that his ex-wife is the respected daughter of a former U.S. attorney general and niece of a president, whose biography detailed years of mental and physical abuse, forcing her to sleep “in a locked bathroom when he was home.”
What if this man brags about blowing things away with his prized Remington shotgun, and jokes about being Michael Corleone, the cold-blooded mob boss in “The Godfather?” Finally, let’s say the walls are closing in; with his unhinged behavior exposed, he may be fired in disgrace, leaving him looking to settle scores. Should such a man continue to own guns?
As they say, no “sensible person” would say he should, and under New York’s “common sense” red flag law (Extreme Risk Protection Order, ERPO), he could be disarmed. Yet no action has been taken against this predator.
Because the man is Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The gun-safety and anti-gun lobbies stay mum because they see him as an ally, and the NRA because they oppose red flag laws. Journalists are intimidated, and legislators? As State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, Bronx/Westchester Democrat, told The New Yorker of Mr. Cuomo, “People don’t speak out. People are afraid.”
Wait, aren’t red flag laws designed to disarm people we fear? Didn’t the legislature pass and Mr. Cuomo sign a law keeping firearms away from domestic abusers — the kind who’d leave his wife shivering on a cold tile floor?
Bullies don’t surrender their weapons willingly. That’s why Mr. Cuomo once crowed, “This [red flag law] will help keep guns away from those dangerous people in the first place and prevent needless tragedies.” A great press statement, but laws fail if not enforced. Indiana’s red flag law failed to stop FedEx shooter Brandon Hole. Will New York’s also leave us asking, “Why didn’t someone do something?”
The ERPO application specifically lists “making threats of violence” as a red flag, and Mr. Cuomo has more than a May Day parade. Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, Manhattan Democrat, tweeted that she’d been “flooded” by Cuomo abuse stories. “So many people have been bullied, mistreated, or intimidated by him.”
Then there’s Assemblyman Ron Kim, Queens Democrat. When he refused to join Mr. Cuomo’s Watergate-style coverup of the nursing home scandal, the governor threatened retaliation. Mr. Kim recounted that Mr. Cuomo “said I hadn’t seen his wrath and that he can destroy me.”
Note that Mr. Kim and Ms. Niou are Asian-Americans at a time when their community faces increased violence, and that Mayor Bill de Blasio described the account as “classic” Cuomo, saying, “A lot of people in New York state have received those phone calls.”
My late boss, Rush Limbaugh, had a maxim: “Some clown gets elected to office and suddenly he’s an expert on everything.” We also assume that being sworn in purges a Bozo of violent emotions like the Vulcan right of Kolinahr. But the metal detectors Speaker Nancy Pelosi installed to screen members say otherwise, and so does history.
In a Capitol first, one congressman blew away another in 1838. In 1987, Rep. Budd Dwyer, Pennsylvania Republicaan, fired a .357 Magnum into his head before a stunned press gaggle. Vice President Aaron Burr wasted Alexander Hamilton and Vice President Dick Cheney kablam’d a friend after infamously chugging breakfast beers. I don’t begrudge a fisherman his morning Schlitz, but even Elmer Fudd always hunted sober. Responsible gun owners were right to demand that Mr. Cheney give up his shotgun, and they’d be right to demand Mr. Cuomo surrender his Remington and all other weapons.
Our leaders love to lecture Americans on violence, promising action but doing nothing to stem the tide of blood and hate. They pass laws for show not solutions, and when they act irresponsibly, PR flacks and lobbying groups protect them from ricochets, while special interest groups fund-raise for and against.
Is Mr. Cuomo a threat to himself and others? Maybe it would have seemed silly to ask six months ago. But back then, it would have seemed just as absurd to charge that he was isolating women to grope and kiss them without consent — just as six months before that, saying he’d condemned thousands of elderly residents to death in nursing homes was called a conspiracy theory.
So picture that loaded Remington hanging over the governor’s bed, and wonder how many assault weapons are lurking in his closet.
Then imagine you’re one of Andrew’s accusers or his ex-wife.
Would you sleep easy knowing he’s armed and dangerous as his life spirals out of control, or would you install a deadbolt on your bathroom door, too, just in case you need a place to hide?
• Dean Karayanis is content producer for the Rush Limbaugh Show and host of History Author Show on iHeartRadio.