How New York City’s gun laws get undercut

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In the wake of the tragic shooting in Aurora, Colo., the gun control conversation shows little sign of slowing.

Deadly and highly publicized mass shootings often prompt surges in public opinion on gun control — the Columbine shooting famously saw 65 percent of Americans in favor of tighter gun restrictions. But gun control as a broad issue has lately seen minimal support; legislators who pursue it are hounded by the National Rifle Association and showered in negative ads for  their efforts. After the shooting in Colorado, the White House announced it wouldn’t seek tighter gun restrictions, Sen. Harry Rein said the Senate calendar was too busy to consider gun control, and Democratic legislators lambasted their colleagues for inaction and bowing to the NRA

In New York City, lax gun restrictions on a federal and often state level are hurting local efforts to keep guns off the streets, a federal report revealed yesterday.

A report released yesterday found that New York City’s tough gun laws don’t hold much water thanks to neighboring states’ more lenient laws. Of 8,793 guns seized in New York last year, just 1,595 of them were bought in the state, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives found.

Guns seized and studied by ATF in New York were commonly purchased in Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Florida — states with less restrictive laws — and 85 percent of the guns used in New York City crimes come from upstate or out of state and 68 percent of guns used in crimes in the rest of the state were purchased in other states. “[In] the rest of the country, the overwhelming majority — 70 percent — come from inside the state, the opposite of our pattern,” one ATF expert told the New York Post. “The lesson is pretty simple: Gun laws matter. States with strong gun laws tend to receive [illegal] guns; states with weak gun laws tend to export [them].”

Advocates show no signs of letting up as they push the President and Republican candidate Mitt Romney to speak on the issue. Others are pushing for stricter bullet control, to dodge Second Amendment issues and the sensitivity around gun control as a broader issue. Despite his lack of policy changes, President Obama has increasingly spoken in favor of restrictions, particularly so-called “common sense” restrictions, like thorough background checks  (under the current laws, these checks can be avoided by purchasing guns at gun shows) and banning military-style assault weapon. (Indeed, when asked about specific gun restriction laws, a majority of Americans favored them.) Democrats, analysts say, don’t feel like they can win on the gun control issue,  and Republicans are quick to scold advocates and Democrats alike for policy discussions during a time of tragedy. Mitt Romney has mostly stayed quiet on the issue, pushing for stricter enforcement of existing laws. Both have come under fire from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who says they are avoiding the issue.


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