Gun rights debate takes to city streets
by Dave Workman
When New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled a rolling billboard listing the number of firearms-related deaths since the Jan. 8 shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, AZ, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) quickly accused the mayor of one-sided politics.
To counter his effort, CCRKBA kicked off a nationwide campaign of its own, with a rolling billboard that carries the message: “Guns Save Lives.”
Bloomberg’s billboard campaign is sponsored by Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG). It is traveling across the country, with scheduled stops in dozens of cities. Each day, according to various news agencies, the number of deaths will be increased by 34, which is the approximate number of firearms fatalities logged every day, according to Bloomberg.
CCRKBA’s effort is about “substance over flash.” Before it is finished, it will have stopped in New York, Boston, Chicago, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Washington, DC. CCRKBA has teamed up with the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) on this project. SAF developed the educational materials to be handed out in cities where the CCRKBA rolling billboard visits.
CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb noted that research by authorities including author and economics Prof. John Lott and criminology Prof. Gary Kleck indicates firearms are used successfully in self-defensethus saving livesbetween 800,000 and 2.5 million times a year.
“If you take the estimates and divide them by 365,” Gottlieb estimated, “you realize that between 2,100 and 6,800 people successfully defend themselves every day of the year with firearms in the United States. The majority of those incidents result in nobody being injured or killed.”
He said those numbers translate to “lives saved that Bloomberg chooses to ignore.”
“Bloomberg’s campaign is a smokescreen,” Gottlieb alleged. “America needs to look behind the façade to see that his ultimate goal is to convince Congress to implement New York-style gun control laws, ban most semiautomatic firearms, stretch background checks out to between six and nine months, and to put gun shows out of business.
“No mayor, regardless how wealthy he is, should dictate to Congress or the people the terms of their civil rights,” he added. “Michael Bloomberg wants to spread hysteria about gun rights. We’re going to spread the truth.”
A spokesman for Bloomberg told reporters that the daily gun death figure does not include suicides. Suicides by firearm typically exceed the number of homicides by firearm.
The billboard is on a truck, which should be heading toward the West Coast as this issue of Gun Week reaches readers. Meanwhile, Gottlieb is planning for CCRKBA’s campaign to end up in the nation’s capital at the same time Bloomberg’s billboard arrives.
“If Bloomberg was really interested in public safety rather than publicity,” Gottlieb said, “he would park that truck and take all the money he’s spending on the billboard and the fuel, and give it to local gun clubs for firearms safety training and education.”
The veteran gun rights activist said in a statement that Bloomberg’s billboard ignores several important facts, not the least of which is that violent crime has declined over the past few years while private gun ownership has skyrocketed. Additionally, Gottlieb noted that the number of private citizens who now are licensed to carry has risen dramatically. Today, he said, more than 6.2 million citizens have licenses or carry permits in more than 40 states, yet homicide numbers are going down, rather than up, as gun prohibitionists frequently argue when opposing concealed carry reform measures.
Sometimes, when those armed citizens intervene, they save more lives than their own, Gottlieb said.
“In some cases where shots are fired by armed citizens,” he observed “several lives are saved. Bloomberg and his cronies at Mayors Against Illegal Guns evidently don’t think their lives are valuable enough to notice.”
Gottlieb is co-author of America Fights Back: Armed Self-Defense in a Violent Age, which details scores of cases in which armed private citizens acted in justifiable self-defense.
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