We said it two weeks ago after the massacre at a movie theater in Colorado, and we’re saying it again today after the massacre at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin: We need more gun control, and now is the time to get it enacted.
We’re not talking about banning all firearms, busting into people’s houses to seize the ones they already own or doing anything else that would be a genuine violation of the Second Amendment. But like the other liberties granted by our Constitution, the right to keep and bear arms is not absolute. Even the National Rifle Association, which continues to get in the way of many sensible gun control measures, agrees that some are warranted and allowable.
In the state Senate, Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) has 15 gun control measures pending, but the Republican leadership doesn’t seem interested in passing any of them. It can’t even allow microstamping, the marking of individual rounds with serial numbers that would allow them to be traced.
Prompted by the Colorado killings and the 12 percent spike in shootings the city has seen so far this year, fellow Queens Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria) is introducing five more bills this week. His proposals include better background checks, mandatory training of all gun buyers, a 10-day wait on weapons purchases that might prevent some impulse killings and a requirement that dealers report all firearm sales to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services within 24 hours.
These are all measures supported by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the nation’s premier firearms control advocacy group. And they all seem worthy of discussion on the Senate floor.
But, as Mayor Bloomberg frequently points out, it’s national measures that are really needed, because most of the gun murders committed in the city are done with weapons purchased in other states and then smuggled in. The mayor has challenged President Obama and Mitt Romney to each come up with a plan to combat gun violence, and neither has responded adequately.
How many more massacres will it take before the nation has a serious conversation about what new laws could be effective and constitutional at the same time? We would hope zero, but we fear that’s not the case.