Between the moon and New York City

By Vin Suprynowicz
web posted March 1999

New York City is an experiment in European-style socialism which always bears watching ... even if doings there are frequently amazing, and rarely anything those west of the Hudson would wish to emulate.

The Washington Post, for instance, published last month another update on the state of New York City's "infrastructure" -- the tax-funded bridges, highways and public buildings which are collapsing around them, even as New Yorkers brag about their current "cultural renaissance." Entire expressways are about to be junked as beyond repair, the Post reported, while hundreds of homes are now routinely flooded by failing sewer systems, and "In Borough Park, bricks falling off a decrepit public school [recently] killed a teen-age girl."

Do New Yorkers plan to entertain bids from private firms to finally take over and operate for profit some of the structures and services which have been driven into such embarrassing bankruptcy by a century of government mal-administration? Of course not. They're merely looking to increase taxes and fees adequate to summon up, oh, another $91 billion dollars, the Post reveals.

Meantime, New York's "culture" in recent years has given the world such euphemisms as "wilding." the innocent might presume this to be a word coined by young men in James Fenimore Cooper's home state to refer to the habit of taking a brisk hike into the Catskill wilderness to enjoy nature's splendor. Instead, it turned out the term was used among a group of healthy young New York men to refer to their activity of ambushing a young professional woman while she jogged in one of the city's parks in broad daylight a few years back, beating her nearly to death, and then taking turns in the repeated rape of their bleeding, comatose victim. The young men did not seem particularly ashamed when tracked down; it had all seemed good clean fun to them.

Did New Yorkers respond by rising up en masse to eliminate all the unconstitutional firearms laws which have been foisted upon them over the previous 75 years, laws which effectively ban such victims from carrying concealed handguns for their own defense? Why, no. Quite to the contrary, this is the city where Bernard Goetz -- though acquitted on grounds of self-defense for the actual shooting of the muggers who used a sharpened screwdriver in place of a beggar's bowl in an attempt to solicit his cash on a city subway -- was nonetheless punished by authorities for "carrying a concealed weapon without a permit," on the fantastical premise that the average law-abiding New Yorker could actually receive such a permit, simply by applying.

("New York City gun laws are so strict that applicants must show a 'need or special danger'," reports Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation in his 1996 book "Politically Correct Guns." When the Wall Street Journal won a court suit in 1981 requiring New York Police to release the names of the chosen few who had been granted pistol permits, the city revealed more than 9 000 non-police city employees had been granted this privilege which is withheld from the average New Yorker. It was subsequently revealed permits had also been issued to such "celebrities" as Laurance Rockefeller, Uri Geller, Bill Cosby, Donald Trump, Howard Stern, Joan Rivers, and anti-gun New York Times publisher Arthur Ochs "Punch" Sulzberger.)

But now we reach an astounding new depth of slackjawed dementia, as word arrives that a New York federal trial jury last month awarded $500 000 in damages to a 19-year-old man who survived a gunshot wound, ordering that those damages be paid not by the "friend" who "accidentally" shot 19-year-old Steven Fox in the head after purchasing his firearm illegally (need we even ask whether New York City public schools take advantage of the free firearm safety classes offered by the NRA?), but rather against a group of 15 American handgun manufacturers, including Colt and Beretta USA, on the fantastic legal theory that those manufacturers knowingly sell "too many" handguns in Southern states, aware that some of those firearms are later re-sold in areas where local authorities have enacted unenforceable gun laws which drive up the black market price of such goods.

Leave aside the obvious fact that only one of the 15 defendants could possibly have manufactured the firearm in question. The legal repercussions should such a verdict withstand appeal -- the likelihood of lawsuits against auto manufacturers for selling cars of which they "know full well" some will be driven by drunks, the liability of liquor distributors who sell six-packs some of which they "know full well" are later re-sold out of car trunks to fraternity boys in dry counties -- are mind-boggling.

Surely we now approach the last stop on a dizzying downhill trolley-ride to that particular circle of hell where everyone will be responsible for evil acts except the criminals who actually perpetrate them.

In fact, the real agenda here was revealed by plaintiff attorney Elisa Barnes, who in her closing argument declared "This huge pool [of handguns] is like toxic waste."

The notion that it is only "handguns" to which these folks object is a bitter joke. Would New York authorities agree to hand a semi-auto military-style rifle of at least 26 inches in length to each youth turning in an "illegal" handgun, in a one-for-one exchange? Of course not. In fact, defying promises to never use the data for such a purpose, New York authorities have already started used gun registration records to begin seizing "previously legal" semi-automatic rifles far too large to ever be considered "concealable weapons."

What these twisted souls hate is the notion that individuals American victims of crime or oppression should retain any power to defend themselves, rather than mewling piteously into the telephone and then patiently waiting for our government masters to dispense aid at their leisure.

In vain do patriots attempt to remind such hand-picked federal juries that Thomas Paine spoke for all Americans when he wrote in 1775: "Arms like laws discourage and keep the invader and the plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property"; that Patrick Henry said during the Virginia debates on ratification of the Constitution, "The great object is, that every man be armed. ... Everyone who is able may have a gun"; that Washington's friend George Mason agreed with Mr. Henry, reminding the Virginia convention that the British authorities had found "to disarm the people ... was the best and most effectual way to enslave them"; that Samuel Adams vowed Massachusetts would never ratify the Constitution unless a Bill of Rights were added to make clear "that the said Constitution be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press, or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their arms."

Make no mistake, a battle has been joined. As the Armenian minority learned in Turkey in 1915 -- as the Ukrainian minority learned to their dismay in Stalin's Russia in the 1930s, and the Jewish and Gypsy minorities in Germany shortly thereafter -- once a people stand disarmed, their other rights hang by a precarious thread.

It was not merely 15 firearms manufacturers that suffered a body blow in that Brooklyn courtroom last week. It was what remains of our American liberties.

At the very least, if New Yorkers consider their products "toxic waste," those 15 manufacturers should promptly refuse to sell any further firearms or replacement parts to New York City residents ... starting with the city police.

Vin Suprynowicz is the assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Readers may contact him via e-mail at The web sites for the Suprynowicz column are at, and The column is syndicated in the United States and Canada via Mountain Media Syndications, P.O. Box 4422, Las Vegas Nev. 89127.

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