info 02.14.14

Guns and Roses
the skint

A different way to show your love today.

Shortly after the Aurora, Colorado movie theater mass shooting in the summer of 2012, we wrote:
"In any given year, nearly 100,000 people are shot in America—including murder, assault, suicide, accident, or police intervention.

It may never be possible to prevent the kind of gun violence that took place last week in Colorado. That, however, should not stop us from having a full discussion of current U.S. gun laws or the outsized influence of the NRA on our policymakers.

Too soon? For those who will become victims of gun violence—the ones who will be shot next month, this coming weekend, tomorrow—the discussion will not be soon enough."

The Sandy Hook massacre took place five months later. There have been 44 school shootings in the country since then—averaging one every 10 days.

Governor Cuomo signed the NY Safe Act one month after Sandy Hook, in January 2013, enacting the toughest gun laws in the nation. Sadly predictable are the challenges to the law now underway by the gun lobby.

Gun manufacturers haven't been keeping their powder dry, either, fighting a losing battle against new microstamping laws.
Microstamping is the technology that allows police to link spent cartridge cases to a specific firearm. Lasers are used to make microscopic stamps on the firing pin and breech face of a semiautomatic handgun. These stamps then get transferred to each cartridge when the weapon is fired. Each cartridge has a unique breadcrumb leading back to the exact gun. In addition to the manifest crime-solving value, microstamping would be a deterrent to "straw purchasers"—the people with no criminal record who buy guns and then sell them to criminals.

The technology is tamper-resistant, there are redundant, invisible stamps, and the mark doesn't wear with use. It improves on the current process used by ballistics experts to analyze "unintentional markings" left on shell cases. Rachel Maddow's recent piece on microstamping gives an excellent overview.

In California, two gunmakers, Smith & Wesson and Ruger, have decided that rather than complying with a new law that requires microstamping technology, it will stop selling new models of semiautomatic guns in the state.

During Governor Cuomo's 2010 campaign, he supported the technology, saying, "We must enact commonsense gun safety laws, such as requiring the microstamping of guns." So far, no real progress on that particular front, though State Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel has sponsored legislation for semiautomatics "manufactured or delivered to any licensed dealer in this state to be capable of microstamping ammunition."

Another way to go at this is to think of Krugerrands. In the 1980s, there was a groundswell of opposition to Apartheid in South Africa, taking the form of pressure on universities and financial institutions to divest investments and stop trading and operations with that country, culminating in the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act passed by Congress in 1986.

The Campaign to Unload "seeks to encourage the gun industry to adopt common-sense, publicly-backed reforms, such as universal background checks and smart gun technology…by enlisting the support of major institutional investors and pension fund managers."

Some of New York's public pension funds have divested. The New York State Common Retirement Fund, the third largest in the country, has, in fact, sold its shares of Smith & Wesson and Ruger. But about $50 million is still managed by private equity firm Cerberus.

Cerberus owns Freedom Group, the largest firearms and ammunition manufacturer in the world. Cerberus promised to sell Freedom Group four days after Sandy Hook. They have not done so.

The Campaign to Unload sent an open letter [PDF] to Stephen Feinberg, Cerberus CEO, asking the firm to honor its commitment.

And as WNYC reported in December, Cerberus isn't the only one: NY's Public Pensions Still Invest in Guns.

Though love poems are the order of the day, here's one by Carl Sandburg, unknown until last year, called A Revolver. On this day and every day, we'd like to see fewer guns, more roses.




[Click image to enlarge]









skint - adj. british slang (1930-35)
lacking funds, broke, bust, stone-broke, impecunious


Around town this weekend, courtesy of the skint: a daily listing of free and cheap things to buy, see, do and eat in New York.



still looking for valentine's day plans? check out our list of 35 fun + fancy wallet-friendly things to do with your beloved or bestie(s).


sat-sun: the women's half moon sword dance team presents the 29th annual new york sword dance festival: 12 teams from the east coast and california give free performances in public spaces around the city (except museums, where normal admission applies).


sun 12:30-5:30pm: mooshoes hosts the annual whalentine's vegan bake sale in support of the sea shepherd conservation society


sun 9pm-4am: bloodsuckers and other creatures of the night on the prowl for love are invited to the annual endless night vampire ball. the dl, $16.66/single, $30 couple.


get tickets to see the new york city ballet at lincoln center 2/18-22 for $47 (plus ticket fees, reg. $92)



Happy Valentine's Day

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