“We are not immune to the national problem of gun violence,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg admitted in a press conference following a shooting incident outside the Empire State Building in late August, where police killed an armed man who had shot a former co-worker.
“An additional nine individuals were either wounded or grazed during the exchange,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly advised the assembled media.
What would soon come out: It was gunfire from NYPD that the nine bystanders were caught up in. Neither of the responding officers had ever fired their guns in the line of duty before. That’s not to say Monday morning quarterbacking their response is fair, but then, neither is the typical response from the anti-gunners, which puts the blame squarely on the “gun lobby.”
It wasn’t long before comparisons were being made to the shootings in Aurora, Colorado, or to the Sikh Temple shootings in Wisconsin. The usual media suspects were calling for “a national conversation to prevent gun deaths,” meaning for more citizen disarmament, and blaming everything from private sales to expiration of the federal “assault weapons” ban, even though the gun used by the murderer was a .45 caliber handgun.
That, of course, suited the Violence Policy Center just fine, which issued a statement condemning the “45 caliber handgun…offering yet another example of how the ready availability of semiautomatic handguns that can be equipped with high-capacity ammunition magazines destroy lives and make everyone less safe. “
Quick to take those talking points and run with them, The New York Times couldn’t wait to tell its readers the “Gun Used by Shooter Is Known for Its Deadly Power,” and that it “was the standard sidearm for the American armed forces for much of the 20th century,” all the while bemoaning “the firearm, powerful as it may be, is not the subject of much of the debate about gun control.” In an unrelated but ironic development, the Times’ executive editor publicly disputed an accusation of liberal bias made by a retiring subordinate editor.
Perhaps the most hysterical, but not unexpected, handwringing came from The Boston Globe’s warning that “The best-trained police officers can be in error when actually facing an enraged gunman. If even these professionals end up shooting and injuring bystanders outside the Empire State Building, how can private citizens be expected to discern an attacker from innocent people inside a darkened theater?”
This of course, makes assumptions that aren’t borne out. A 2008 study commissioned with the Rand Corporation concluded, among other findings, that NYPD training standards are inadequate, that requalification standards are minimal, and that “Recruits should be required to pass proficiency standards in real life and scenario-based tests of complex decision making before they graduate from the police academy [and] seasoned officers should be required to demonstrate their continued proficiency on the most demanding real-life scenarios.”
In short, police aren’t the only ones competent to keep and bear arms, no matter how much those who would prefer a Bloomberg-style monopoly of violence try to put us all in a New York state of mind.
By David Codrea