Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer has a suggestion for Mayor Bloomberg in his battle against gun violence: Leverage the purchasing power of the NYPD.
“Use the city as one of the largest purchasers of guns. Use its market power,” Spitzer suggested in a one-on-one interview with NBC 4 New York. “Go to gun manufacturers and say, ‘New York City will not buy your guns unless you limit the production and sale of semi-automatics or magazines with more than 10 bullets.”
Spitzer also suggested using strength in numbers to pressure gun manufacturers.
“The mayor has a coalition of mayors with whom he is working,” Spitzer said. “Get 700 mayors to say, ‘We collectively will not buy guns from manufacturers who do not agree to this.’”
Spitzer, who first floated this idea when he was state attorney general, commended Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to curb gun violence as he criticized national leaders, including President Barack Obama.
“Our elected officials on the national stage, unfortunately are quiet, are cowering in front of the NRA and that’s a shame. Even the president,” Spitzer said. “I understand the political argument on his side, but I just wish he’d be tougher on this.”
That political argument, in part, is the enormous influence of the National Rifle Association to rally its membership -- many of whom are police officers -- to vote against candidates who support gun controls.
The NRA referred questions to the industry's trade association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation. The general counsel of that group said it would file a lawsuit to stop a proposal such as the one Spitzer offered.
"It’s clearly unlawful. This amounts to a conspiracy to violate anti-trust law," said Lawrence Keane, Senior Vice-President and General Counsel for National Shooting Sports Foundation.
Keane told NBC 4 New York he believes any action by municipalities to “bully” gun manufacturers would ultimately cost taxpayers more money and send the wrong message to rank-and-file police officers.
"[Police departments] have to buy the firearms we say you have to buy, not what you think is best for you,” said Keane. “I don’t think that’s going to sit too well with law enforcement.”
Keane also said Spitzer tried and failed to implement such an idea more than a decade ago.
Spitzer said he believes in the power of money and says his idea does not require an act of Congress to enact major change.
“If the president wanted to take a leadership role, the Defense Department buys an awful lot of guns,” said Spitzer. “If you got the Defense Department to say, ‘We will not buy semi-automatic weapons from any manufacturer that’s willing to sell them to private citizens,’ you could change the industry.”
This week, an NYPD sergeant assigned to a gang unit was shot in both legs while pursuing a suspect in a narrow alley in Queens. He was released from the hospital Friday and is the 10th NYPD office to be wounded in the line of duty this year.
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