Even as the Giants and the Patriots face off in the Super Bowl in Indianapolis, the mayors of their two cities have joined together in a TV commercial urging stricter federal gun control.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, founders of a group called Mayors Against Illegal Guns, have recorded an ad to run in some areas on Sunday. Words from Bloomberg on Twitter make the purpose clear: “We disagree on who’ll win the #Superbowl, but @Mayor Tom Menino and I agree on fighting illegal guns.”
The commercial certainly has a special resonance in New York.
The mayor and Police Commissioner Kelly rushed to the bedside of a wounded police officer Tuesday night. Kevin Brennan, 29, was shot in the skull as he pursued a gunman in Brooklyn. He is expected to make a full recovery. Kelly called Brennan “one lucky man.”
The mayor said that Brennan’s young daughter “has no reason to believe that her daddy wouldn’t be there to see her crawl for the first time and, in good time, to dance at her wedding.”
Bloomberg asserted the shooting made clear the importance of gun control. He added: “We had too close a brush with death tonight due to illegal guns.”
And the figures prove he’s right. Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne told me that about 85 percent of the gun crimes committed in New York City result from gun purchases made in Pennsylvania, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida -- “states with comparatively lax gun laws.”
Despite this fact, Browne says, great progress has been made in fighting crime. In 2011, in Brooklyn, he says there were 195 murders committed with illegal hand guns, the number falling below 200 for the first time since 1963.
John Feinblatt, the mayor’s chief policy adviser, told me that states with tough gun laws are unlikely to be the source of illegal guns. He noted that, in fighting gun crimes, two measures are vital: having universal background checks for gun sales and putting all such data in the FBI files.
In the case of the Virginia Tech massacre, in which 33 people were killed, the gunman, Seung-hui Cho, had a mental history that indicated he was dangerous but , Feinblatt said, that was never passed on to the FBI. Some state laws on gun sales, he added “ have loopholes like Swiss cheese.”
Feinblatt thinks it’s perfectly understandable that “two mayors can have great rivalry on the playing field but one thing they and other mayors agree on is the need for federal gun control.”
It’s a wonder that in Great Britain illegal hand guns are relatively scarce. America, compared to Western Europe, is overrun with guns. It would seem to make it easier to be the boss of Scotland Yard than commissioner of the NYPD.