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Gun Control & The Long Island Railroad Crime

Thursday, July 29, 1999

"Damage control" was the order of the day for "gun control" supporters following Colin Ferguson`s shooting rampage on a Long Island, New York, railroad car, on Dec. 6, 1993.

First, Ferguson`s crime demonstrated that the centerpiece of the anti-gun lobby`s legislative agenda -- a waiting period on firearm sales -- has no effect on criminals. Ferguson acquired his gun in California, which since 1975 has had a 15-day waiting period on firearm sales, three times the duration of the federal "Brady Act" waiting period. California`s waiting period had no better effect on Ferguson`s New York crime than upon those who commit crimes in California, where the homicide rate is 46% higher than the rate for the rest of the nation.

Secondly, the murderer`s crime also demonstrated that laws -- such as New York`s -- which forbid honest, decent citizens from carrying firearms for protection endanger, rather than protect, them. Ferguson`s attack proved that the police cannot protect every citizen 24 hours a day, and that responsible citizens should be permitted under the law to exercise their fundamental right to protect themselves from criminal attack. Colin Ferguson`s victims obeyed New York`s onerous law; Ferguson, however, did not.

Anti-gun activists, adamantly opposed to laws permitting honest citizens to carry firearms -- despite lower crime rates in states that have adopted such laws -- rushed to assert that no one on the Long Island train would have been able to use a firearm for protection. This claim was made spontaneously, without any evidence relative to the crime in question, of course. Moreover, the claim is contradicted by both nationwide data on the use of firearms for self-defense (2 1/2 million such cases each year), and upon thousands upon thousands of individual reports detailing the circumstances in which armed citizens have prevented crimes.

Within 24 hours of Ferguson`s crime, Handgun Control, Inc., and Brady bill sponsor Rep. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) -- rather than admitting the failure of "gun control" -- demanded passage of even more laws. HCI proposed a massive federal anti-gun legislative agenda; "Don`t you dare tell me that we don`t need any more laws," said Schumer, the bill`s likely sponsor.

Fortunately, legislators reached more reasonable conclusions. States are one-by-one adopting instant check laws, exempting them from the federal waiting period law, and/or repealing existing statewide measures delaying the lawful purchase of firearms. Additionally, many states are adopting laws to allow honest citizens to carry firearms for protection -- 28 states have such laws today and efforts for the passage of similar laws are underway in many other states. These laws, along with tough criminal justice reform measures being passed in many states, can only contribute to a reduction in crimes.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.