WE THE PEOPLE: Time to turn off the iron pipeline

The ammunition magazine on the belt of Police Officer Thomas Richards was his only protection from a slug from an illegal 9 mm pistol bullet last Monday. A dope-peddling criminal turned the high-powered semiautomatic pistol on him and his partner in a metropolis with the toughest gun laws in the nation.

Two of New York City’s Finest pursued the pistol-packing predator and continued the chase despite the fact the suspect continued to turn and fire at the officers. It would be nice if our legislature took steps to do whatever it could to punish those who possess and transport illegal weapons in our state.

The illegal weapon used was purchased in Virginia in 2010 by a “straw” buyer. A person without a criminal record can purchase weapons in states with weak gun laws and transport them to states with strong gun laws for a profit. They can go to a state like Virginia and buy guns, and drive up north via I-95, the so-called iron pipeline, to sell them.

The problem is a national one. Unfortunately Congress is unable to take care of small problems so it is unlikely it will tackle this one. What does Representative Grimm propose to do about the problem?

The Republican governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, signed into law a repeal of that state’s one gun per month purchase law. He could have vetoed this proposed repeal. The National Rifle Association applauded the move because it removed a “burden” from law-abiding citizens looking to buy guns.

Is it really a burden for a law-abiding citizen to limit him or herself to 12 firearms a year? All gun control regulation is filled with loopholes lobbied for by the NRA and politicians controlled by them to assure continued sales. A 2010 Washington Post study reflected that two thirds of Virginia guns that were used in crimes came from only 40 of the state’s 3,400 retail sellers.

Now, unscrupulous and irresponsible gun sellers in Virginia may be profiting from gun violence in New York and elsewhere. These dealers of death can sell as many handguns to any buyer that walks into their store as long as they have a clean driver’s license and pass a background check.

Virginia’s lack of consideration for her sister states should not be unpunished. People from New York and other states who are hurt by this move should boycott products from Virginia and spend their tourism dollars anywhere but Virginia.

The New York State Senate should pass a microstamping law for ammunition in New York. It can also coordinate with other states on a plan to stop smugglers from getting the weapons across state lines from states like Virginia. Mayor Bloomberg cares deeply about the issue and I hope he can come up with a plan to protect New York City.


The debate over public pensions continues around the nation. Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg are pulling out the stops to railroad a pension “reform” bill through the legislature.

Several members are standing up to the pressure in order to protect public employees. There is a need to reform the system, but to rush to create a new “tier” with very few benefits will hurt future workers and present ones. A Tier 6 with only retirement savings accounts would fail to provide steady contribution from Tier 6 workers in order to sustain the pension fund.

Is this really a back door and unconstitutional attack on present workers’ and retirees’ pensions? A better plan would provide for steady contribution to the pension fund by the employer and all employees even when the pension plan investments are doing well.

New York State and New York City always reduce contribution to the fund when the economy is doing well. The contribution should remain steady, and if an increase in the worker’s portion of the contribution is necessary, that is a better place to start planning any reform.

Brian Kieran is an attorney and community activist who works as a Principal Law Clerk in the Supreme Court of the State of New York in Kings County and is a Democrat.

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