We the People: Taking aim at lax gun laws

The mayor and the NYPD, in an ongoing overhaul of the “stop and frisk” policy, have agreed to purge the database containing personal information on individuals stopped and frisked by police officers when charges were dropped or never filed.

The personal information gathered from the stops was utilized for future criminal investigations. The decision to eliminate that personal information is part of a settlement of a lawsuit against the NYPD.

However, a change in the law made the existence of the database moot. The revised law specifically limited the use of the information for future criminal investigations. The Corporation Counsel made the decision to direct the NYPD to purge the information since it was consistent with the changed law which made any information gathered relatively useless.

The entire policy should be overhauled to keep it as an effective tool for crime prevention but prevent it from being misused to trample the rights of individual citizens.

Meanwhile, guns keep flowing into New York from other states to deliver death on our streets. A 14-year-old, with a nine-millimeter pistol, was shot and killed by a rookie police officer recently.

This death was avoidable if we could keep these guns out of our children’s hands. Some people say that New York should keep out of other states’ gun policies and Mayor Bloomberg answers that we would, “Just as soon as you stop letting guns seep into the black market and land in the hands of criminals to be used to murder our citizens.”

People must move the debate on gun regulation from a dry argument about the law and history to the one being written in blood every day on the streets of big cities in America.

People do not live by law alone. The law must be balanced against liberty and the Constitution provides the fulcrum upon which to maintain the delicate balance between law and liberty.

A practical reform to gun regulation is possible but it will require a combination of courage and compromise.

The U.S. Supreme Court in a controversial decision held that an individual does have a right to possess a firearm (Heller v. District of Columbia). How and in what way a citizen may exercise that right is still fully subject to government regulation.

The judiciary can continue to attempt to piece together a cogent and clear system of gun regulation through its decisions but Congress should be the body to pass consistent and Constitutional gun regulation to protect our liberty as well as the lives of our citizens.

Whoever succeeds Mayor Bloomberg must continue his crusade for sensible federal gun regulation. Our next mayor will also have to take a long hard look at the Department of Education and the “system” of education that it has developed.

Chancellor Walcott predicted that state reading and math scores will drop sharply for New York City students due to new tougher standards. We must decide whether we want to prepare a generation of students to take tests or educate a generation of students to learn skills to live life.

Investigators working for District Attorney Charles J. Hynes recently arrested a drug peddler who was selling cocaine from an ice cream truck parked at the 69th Street Pier. In an unbelievably brazen display of contempt for the law, the suspect dealt drugs to adults and ice cream cones to kids from the same vehicle. Kudos to D.A. Hynes!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.