Were it not for the courage and quick thinking of Detective Kenneth Ayala, four of NYC’s finest and two civilians might have suffered a different fate. Ayala was shot twice while defending his fellow officers and a pregnant woman and baby held captive before a shootout over the weekend.
The suspect was firing a 9-mm semiautomatic and had a military assault rifle in his home. Both were illegal firearms brought from other states with much more lenient gun laws than New York.
Over the past four months, eight NYPD officers have been wounded with illegal guns. And it seems like every week, the Police Department announces that innocent victims have been hit in shootouts or by stray bullets. Among them, these awful recent cases: three women shot for no reason in front of a deli in Bronxdale, an eight-year-old Hispanic boy wounded by a stray bullet in Soundview and a Hispanic man shot in the head while working at a bodega in Pelham Parkway.
The gaping holes in federal gun laws that allow for the circulation of weapons must be closed. And in this election cycle, they should become campaign issues.
Locally, there are measures on the table that would help. In Albany, a microstamping bill should be passed. As a law, it would require that ammunition sold in New York to have a stamp identifying the buyer and potentially helping to solve crimes.
Gun buybacks and toughening some laws will definitely improve the situation. But we can accomplish little if neighboring states keep selling weapons like candy. This is why it the federal government must pressure states to implement laws limiting the sale of guns to those with no criminal histories. Congress and the White House must ban the sale of military assault weapons such as the rifle found in the ex-con’s home this past weekend. There is absolutely no justifiable reason for civilians to carry such dangerous weapons. And there is absolutely no justifiable reason for any politician to stand in the way of gun control measures.