When Gov. Cuomo won sweeping new gun controls earlier this month, it introduced a little ironic tension into state policy: New York is now home to both the toughest gun law in the country and the biggest rifle maker in America—Remington, based in upstate Ilion, which has received millions in state subsidies aimed at supporting manufacturers.
New York City faces its own ironic twist: Home to among the most stringent handgun licensing schemes in America, led by a mayor who is enemy No. 1 of the gun lobby, the city's pension funds hold $18 million of stock in various gun companies.
After the Newtown massacre, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and others began calling for the city to divest from those stocks. On Tuesday, the New York City Employees' Retirement System—the largest of the city's five pension funds (cops, firefighters, teachers and other school employees each have their own pool)—took a step toward doing that, as its trustees okayed a resolution submitted by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz calling on the comptroller's office, which oversees the pension funds, to analyze how the city might execute a divestment.
As we explained here, divestment could be complicated, because the pension funds are invested in broad indices rather than individual stocks, and because the trustees can't do anything that undermines the fund's financial footing.
Meanwhile, in this month's American Rifleman, the magazine of the National Rifle Association, NRA executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre cites New York's own recent hurricane experience—or at least a version of it—as a reason for Americans to "stand and fight" by buying guns and resisting gun control: "After Hurricane Sandy we saw the hellish world that the gun prohibitionists see as their utopia. Looters ran wild in south Brooklyn. There was no food, water or electricity. And if you wanted to walk several miles to get supplies, you better get back before dark, or you might not get home at all."
Whether that picture of life in post-Sandy New York—where burglaries increased but other crimes fell, and where a grand total of 18 people were arrested in the largest incident of looting, at a Key Food in Coney Island—reflects reality or not, LaPierre sees worse stuff on the horizon. The border with Mexico "remains porous not only to people seeking jobs in the U.S., but to criminals whose jobs are murder, rape, robbery and kidnapping." And if the country's fiscal problems grow worse, "there likely won't be enough money to pay for police protection."
LaPierra continues: "Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. Lone criminals. These are perils we are sure to face—not just maybe. It's not paranoia to buy a gun. It's survival."