Bloomberg urges police strike

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has found the solution for a political culture that responds to a gun massacre by stampeding away from any debate about gun laws. Bloomberg is arguing that law enforcement officers should go on strike to force Congress to start talking about guns. “The police officers across this country [should] stand up collectively and say, We’re going to go on strike,” he said on CNN yesterday.

Bloomberg is the outlier here, as he usually is. The New York Times has a piece today in which the campaigns of President Obama and Mitt Romney flee from any talk of opening up a debate about gun laws, despite the fact that both had embraced stricter regulations of firearms in the past.

Obama called for an assault weapons ban four years ago, while then-Gov. Romney signed an assault weapons ban in Massachusetts in 2004. The Massachusetts ban even criminalized one of the rifles allegedly used in the recent Aurora, Colorado, theater massacre. Still, the Times has been unable to drum up any enthusiasm for reopening a debate on gun control.

Obama’s spokesman told the Times that the president “believes we need to take steps that protect Second Amendment rights of the American people but that ensure that we are not allowing weapons into the hands of individuals who should not, by existing law, obtain those weapons.” Romney played a variation on that theme, telling CNBC, “I still believe that the Second Amendment is the right course to preserve and defend and don’t believe that new laws are going to make a difference in this type of tragedy.”

US Sen. Scott Brown has stepped even further out on the tightrope, saying he supports the existing assault weapons ban in Massachusetts, but arguing that such decisions should be left to the states. Of course, state borders are permeable — a fact former Globe columnist Steve Bailey highlighted when he famously drove to New Hampshire, charged a weapon to his Globe expense account, and brought it back to Massachusetts. One state’s gun laws do little to slow gun traffic when firearms can easily be bought in bulk and driven across state lines. That flow is likely to continue, with Governing reporting that the passage of national gun control legislation highly unlikely.

Which is why Bloomberg is now talking up a nationwide law enforcement strike. “I think there is a perception among the political world that the NRA has more power than the American people. I don’t believe that,” Bloomberg said. Real political power doesn’t lie in the NRA, he argued. It rests with people who have to police maniacs with guns — or, Bloomberg argued, it would, if they would say, “We’re not going to protect you unless you, the public, through your legislature, do what’s required to keep us safe.”

                                                                                                                                    –PAUL MCMORROW


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