Commentator Kendal Hemphill's Monthly Column
YOU HAVE PROBABLY HEARD IT SAID THAT guns have two enemies: rust and politicians. Of the two, by far the most menacing threat today is the latter. Of those, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg ranks near the top of the list.
Bloomberg possesses two attributes that make him a serious nemesis to Second Amendment freedoms—not just in New York, but everywhere in the United States: money and influence. Currently listed as the eighth richest man in America with a net worth of $16 billion, Bloomberg is the founder and 88 percent owner of the financial software services company, Bloomberg LP.
A lifelong registered democrat, Bloomberg hoodwinked voters when he switched his registration in 2001 to run for the office of mayor of New York City as a Republican. Amidst allegations of sexual harassment of employees and accusations of using threats to solicit aid from non-profit organizations, he has been reelected to the office twice. Bloomberg even persuaded the New York City Council to amend the city’s term limit laws so that he could run for his third term.
In 2006, Bloomberg started a coalition called Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which, on the surface, sounds like a no-brainer. Every law-abiding citizen in the country, and certainly every politician, could not help but be in favor of depriving criminals of weapons. The problem is that most of the organization’s activities focus on depriving honest folks of their firearms, and pushing legislation that would make it more difficult to own and carry a gun legally.
Its first order of business once MAIG was founded was to set up sting operations against gun shops. Bloomberg claimed “crime guns” were being smuggled from southern states to New York City, and used private investigators to lure gun dealers into illegal “straw purchases” so that he could then file lawsuits against the dealers.
Using non-law enforcement purchasers to buy guns out of state was itself illegal, and Bloomberg’s actions were against both state and federal laws. In May of 2007, Virginia Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell sent Bloomberg a “cease and desist” letter, threatening federal felony charges if he did not stop sending the illegal buyers into Virginia.
MAIG started with 15 mayors, but the group grew quickly. Too quickly to believe, some thought. An investigation into MAIG’s list of member mayors revealed that many were not aware they had joined. Some members on MAIG’s list were not even mayors, and some were no longer mayors, but were left on the roster anyway. Some mayors learned after joining the true nature and intent of the group, and resigned—only to find later that their names had never been removed, even after several months.
One such mayor, Marlene Angelskin, of Walton Hills, Ohio, joined the organization hoping to help fight crime. After finding out the group’s intent, she quickly backed out and on 17 August 2009 wrote Bloomberg a letter of resignation, saying: “I am withdrawing because you are attempting to erode all gun ownership, not just illegal guns...you are using this coalition of mayors to advance a hidden agenda of bringing lawsuits against members of the firearms industry and spreading anti-gun propaganda. Mayor, you and your coalition of allies have misrepresented yourselves to the mayors of America and its citizens. This effort is simply another attempt to shift blame for violent crime from criminals to law-abiding gun owners. This is gun control, not crime prevention.” The letter goes on, but the tone is consistent. Mayor Anielski got duped, and she was not happy about it.
MAIG’s purported goal is to combat illegal guns, but some of its claims are suspect. The group aims to close down the “gun show loophole” that MAIG alleges criminals and people on the FBI terrorist watch list to purchase firearms at gun shows without a background check. The fact is that no such loophole exists. Any gun purchase which is illegal anywhere else is also illegal at gun shows. No exceptions.
MAIG also opposes national right-to-carry reciprocity, which would allow concealed handgun license holders to carry weapons in any state that issues such permits, while being subject to the laws of the state they are in at the time. MAIG’s stated reasoning for this is that such reciprocity would override the “authority of individual states to decide whether to recognize concealed carry permits from out-of-state residents who have criminal records or who cannot meet in-state safety training requirements.”
But there are no such concealed carry permit holders. If a person has a criminal record or cannot meet their state’s requirements, that person cannot be issued a concealed carry permit. MAIG is, in effect, creating its own dragons to slay, dragons that do not exist in the real world.
In his military treatise, The Art of War, written during the 6th century B.C., Sun Tzu wrote, “Know your enemy.” Good advice being timeless, American gun owners would do well to keep an eye on Michael Bloomberg and his group of misled mayors. Because an enemy by any other name is just as threatening.