info 07.24.12

Every Person in New York

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.

If you're a Second Amendment absolutist, spare us your email. We know your arguments. You're wrong. Guns can be regulated. Guns should be regulated. More regulated.

New York has the right idea. As this graph shows, the sale of assault weapons is prohibited; handguns are regulated statewide and even more strictly in NYC. You can be turned down for having an arrest record or a history of domestic violence, even being a DMV scofflaw. The City wants to deny you a gun because you didn't pay your parking tickets? F*ck you, pay your tickets.

The fact remains that across regions and states, "areas where household firearm ownership rates were higher, a disproportionately large number of people died from homicide." You can be certain that if Montana, say, were to allow Montanans to own surface-to-air missiles, more airplanes would fall out of the sky over Montana. If Texas were to allow cannons to be hitched to the back of SUVs, cannonball injuries would rise dramatically.

Rep. Louie Gohmert notwithstanding, more weapons is not the answer. Smarter Congress members would be helpful. Fighting the influence of the NRA on politicians is essential.

In terms of policy, The Federal Assault Weapons Ban, part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, sunsetted in 2004, is one place to start.

Here's another: microstamping.

It's 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.

In his 2010 campaign, Governor Cuomo was fully supportive of microstamping, though the legislation to implement it has stalled. A new website has been created to urge leadership from the Governor on this issue: Tell Cuomo.

Please, tell him.

Jason Polan started Every Person in New York in March of 2008. He plans on working on the project until it is finished. Look for Every Person in New York on Tuesdays in MUG and daily at Jason's site.

Lafayette Street (from 2010)

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