City Pols Send Gun Control Message To DC
The New York City Council last week sent a clear message to federal lawmakers and the gun industry, demanding that Congress reauthorize and strengthen the Assault Weapons Ban and strike down proposed legislation that would make firearms manufacturers immune to lawsuits.
Resolutions sponsored by Council Member David Yassky (D-Brooklyn) and passed by the Council warn that New York already suffers from loose laws that control gun-makers, and that lawmakers’ plans to exempt manufacturers from federal laws and courts would further endanger New Yorkers.
"The United States Congress cannot tie the hands of local governments and individuals ravaged by the negligence of the gun industry," said Yassky. "If gun-makers cannot be held accountable for business practices that put guns in the hands of criminals, this country and this City will lose a crucial method of fighting violent crime."
The legislation proposed by Congress would prohibit the federal government, states, municipalities, private interest groups and individuals from suing gun manufacturers. The House bill has been ap-proved by Congress, but the Senate bill is still pending for an expected vote at the beginning of next year. If the bill is passed, it would pre-empt nearly 30 suits in New York and across the country that contend manufacturers’ firearms are used in crimes so frequently that their sales strategies amount to a violation of the public’s safety.
Gun-makers would also like Congress to repeal the Assault Weapons Ban, allowing them to again sell weapons designed to maximize lethal effects through an extremely rapid rate of fire. The law will expire in September, 2004 unless it is reauthorized. Yassky’s resolution encourages Congress to go even further, suggesting that lawmakers include weapons with detachable ammunition magazines and high-capacity magazines in the ban.
Tens of thousands of "grandfathered" assault weapons are still in circulation and thousands more will go into circulation if the Assault Weapons Ban is not reauthorized. Law enforcement officers would be at particular risk from these weapons-which are the "weapon of choice" of drug traffickers, gangs, and paramilitary extremist groups-because of their ability to penetrate body armor and their high firepower.