Thursday, January 24, 2013

Banning Guns on City Property

In the aftermath of the tragedy at Newtown, Connecticut, the Legal Committee of the Common Council started drafting legislation to ban guns from all city-owned property, including City Hall and all city parks. The proposed legislation was on the agenda for discussion at last night's Legal Committee meeting.

While New York State's anti-weapons bill inspired thousands of gun owners to rally in protest last weekend, the pro-gun lobby at City Hall last night consisted of one white-haired lady, identifying herself as Barbara Van Allen of Claverack, who called the legislation being discussed "a bunch of baloney." 

The photograph by Hans Pennink for Reuters appeared in the New York Daily News.


  1. 1.

    I hope this measure won't recreate a classic scenario from the old Westerns: the sheriff has his hands full ensuring that everyone has disarmed themselves at the edge of town, meanwhile the sociopath predictably slips by with his weapons intact.

    The enforcement plan must be foolproof. Otherwise, owing to a false sense of security, it actually increases the chances of an incident on city property while we're letting our guards down.

    Earlier this month (8th), one alderman who supports the proposal wrote in at Gossips on a different topic, that "a legislature -- at least in the US -- has no enforcement powers of its own. That is squarely the purview of the executive."

    Since he was the same alderman who'd proposed the legislation in question, that sounded a lot like passing the buck. In context, he seemed to be saying that the question of enforcement of his own laws was not his concern.

    Presumably the public is permitted to discuss proposed legislation too. By way of a reply, I commented that it was irresponsible to divorce the drafting of laws from their application in the real world.

    If the alderman really believes that his job ends at the drafting and passing of laws, then it's up to the mayor and the public to discuss how the current proposal is supposed to work, and how much it will cost.

    I'd feel better to know that the cost of enforcement will be manageable, but if it's metal detectors and additional guards in buildings, then how many buildings and machines and guards are we talking about? Will it become an unfunded mandate for the HPD?

    I'm not necessarily against a no-weapons policy in buildings, but of all the side issues to be considered let's not forget that common sense and concern for cost generally go out the window when the humanitarianism of a politician is on display. (Watch now as I'm pilloried by one of them for my insensitivity.)

    And speaking of windows, how can we be certain we're preventing firearms from entering city buildings when we can't even secure City Hall from break-ins, let alone apprehend the video-taped thieves! Simply recall the bathroom-stall scene in Godfather I, moments before Pacino becomes a made man. If it isn't the first priority of these same politicians to make our public buildings 100% secure, then the proposed legislation is probably motivated by something extraneous to - and potentially deleterious to - public safety.

  2. 2.

    Frankly, the whole thing smacks a little of a symbolic gesture. Just like the council's ill-considered anti-fracking legislation (also mostly symbolic), the proposal becomes unreasonable by asking for too much.

    Consider our parks, which as "city properties" would be included in the current proposal. How is the law to be enforced in parks? If it's only to be enforced after the law has been broken (and possibly in some scary way), then it's as empty and symbolic a gesture as making the lone act of suicide illegal.

    In the meantime, perhaps the most dangerous consequence we should have learned from Gary Cooper movies is that by removing the permitted weapons from play - which are the property of responsible and practiced citizens - the psychopath who is intent on his twisted goal can automatically anticipate less opposition. This was the case at Virginia Tech, where the shooter was aware that his victims would be disarmed.

    For good or ill, guns are the "great equalizers" in our culture, and they're not disappearing anytime soon.

    I'm afraid that what we're considering is another unenforceable city law. What's different about this law, as opposed to the others the City of Hudson can't or won't enforce, is that inside buildings or out-of-doors in parks, the law-abiding gun owners will now be removed from the overall equation. Because the crazies know this, we're all made less safe paradoxically.

    If we really want to be safer, we must consider the cost and likely effectiveness of this law. Only asking to secure buildings brings one set of challenges; whereas the blanket phrase "city property" is a very different proposition.

    If we can assume that the Common Council considers the efficaciousness of their laws to be someone else's concern, then the public has a responsibility to parse the issue of our own safety for them.

  3. Yes it's all symbolic, stupid and ineffectual. The only cure is to amend the constitution, ban all gun ownership and manufacture, collect all the weapons and melt them down. Use the steel as frameworks for solar panels. This will never happen, unless a psycho gets into the capital with a assualt weapon and blows away half of congress. Then again, the idiotic remainders might vote to make concealed weapons mandatory for all members of congress.

  4. Think carefully before including city parks in the proposed gun ban. In all probability it will increase the danger of gun violence.

    David Mamet has these interesting things to say in the current Daily Beast (1/29/13):

    "[T]here are more than 2 million instances a year of the armed citizen deterring or stopping armed criminals; a number four times that of all crimes involving firearms. ...

    "[I]f the weapons are concealed, any potential malefactor must assume that anyone on the premises he means to disrupt may be armed—a deterrent of even attempted violence. ...

    "The police do not exist to protect the individual. They exist to cordon off the crime scene and attempt to apprehend the criminal. ...

    "The individual is not only best qualified to provide his own personal defense, he is the only one qualified to do so ..."

  5. Why are people reacting without some intelligent thought? Are people in positions to make laws really with out putting sound thought into this? Making this law among many other proposals, disarms the legal weapons owner from possessing a weapon publicly whom already has been authorized to carry such a weapon by a court judge (We are talking pistols in this scenario). In fact, one must take a mandatory course and also a background check (criminal record, finger printing, etc) before he can purchase and own this weapon legally. It's been this way for many years. Now think about it, would the would be person who “ILLEGALLY” possesses a weapon have regard for the law period? Highly doubtful. If we place signs along the US/Mexican border stating “Drug trafficking is prohibited”, do you think the drug traffickers will stop trafficking because we have a sign up? We already have laws for that. Do we institute prohibition for alcohol because of the irresponsibility of a few who drink and commit criminally negligent manslaughter? People need to get their head out of the @55 and think before reacting. We already have many existing laws, particularly with firearms. Enforcement is what matters. Also, the so called assault weapon description is so misconstrued publicly, particularly with the media blowing it apart for advertising dollars and what is now perceived by the public. Because it is black in color and looks like a M16, it must make it especially dangerous? I could place a nice Walnut stock on it, and I can make it look like a very nice hunting rifle and in fact, it makes a great varmint rifle. I could change the looks, but again it is still a gun. The Ruger 10/22 which has been sold for years and some may be familiar with, is a nice gun that grandpa would buy his grandkid for his 16th birthday for small game and/or target shooting. Mind you, it is also a semi-automatic weapon just like the so proclaimed assault rifles. About the same size bullet, and can cause the same affect. But wait, the 10/22 it is a target, small game rifle. It can't be that dangerous, can it? Thats right, it looks like a hunting rifle so probably not as dangerous. It performs exactly the same. In the persons hands who ILLEGALLY possesses it, only the target changes. The city of Hudson should be addressing much more important issues then making a law for the sake of just doing something. Laws already exist from state level and federal level. Detection and Enforcement is what needs to take place. This goes along with Dog Poop!!!

  6. Certain of our aldermen consider themselves above the question of the enforceability or efficaciousness of their own legislation. Their job, as they see it, is merely to create laws.

    But while the council is busy creating new laws, some are more excited by the notion they might "send a message to Albany" - in the words of one alderman - than they are in completing the work required of them by the city code.

    To contrast this shortsighted zeal for publicity, consider the code at §325-3 which states that a map of the city's zoning districts "shall be kept up-to-date in the office of the Building Inspector for the use and benefit of the public.”

    It is clearly an obligation of our legislators to order, pay for, and then provide such a map. But after more than a year since the city's zoning was amended and became law, there is still no map and no known plan for a map.

    The city's Zoning Map wasn't even mentioned in the council president's agenda for 2013, despite the law's self-definition as being for "the use and benefit of the public."

    It's becoming apparent that a faction, or factions, within the Common Council are highly motivated to make a splash in the pages of the Albany Times-Union, or even in The New York Times (oh, don't jinx it!), while the work they're obligated to accomplish on our behalves languishes.

    I agree Mr. Walsh that a bit more enforcement of the laws already on the books would go a long way!

  7. I wonder if there's an update on this story?

    Only this evening (Feb 5) I ran into someone in ShopRite who claimed that Channel 10 has reported a new angle that hadn't appeared in either the Register Star or The Gossips of Rivertown.

    I wonder, did Channel 10 only refer to the original story, which is the subject of this post, or was there something more recent that our local news outlets didn't cover?

    This isn't an argument about gun control, but about public safety.