After 13-year-old Ronald Wallace was shot and killed in Brooklyn at the end of August, Mayor Michael Bloomberg voiced his concern about the prevalence of illegal firearms and called for immediate action from the White House.
Shortly after Bloomberg’s speech, NYPD gunned down Jeffrey Johnson, 58, outside the Empire State Building after receiving notice that Johnson had fatally shot his former manager. These tragedies come after the mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. in July.
Marc La Vorgna, press secretary for the Bloomberg administration, said on average 34 Americans are killed with illegal firearms each day, which adds up to a total death toll of more than 49,000 over the last four years. Bloomberg, an avid advocate of stricter gun-control laws, has repeatedly criticized the White House and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for deliberately avoiding to raise attention to the issue of illegal firearms for years.
“Gun-control has been front and center across America this summer, but neither candidate has said what they are going to do,” La Vorgna said. “If they knew today that there was a disease or terrorist attack that would kill 49,000 people during the next presidential term, they would probably do something about it.”
According to national statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, 70 percent of guns used in crimes are purchased in the same state. The corresponding number for New York state is 15 percent. La Vorgna credited this to the legislations implemented by Bloomberg and highlighted that initiatives to prevent future influx of out-of-state firearms have to come from the federal level.
But New Yorkers hold various views on the issue.
Sank Chen, a regular customer of John Jovino Gun Shop in Little Italy, said she doubts the potential outcome of more stringent gun control.
“You can’t control it,” Chen said. “Even if you stop selling guns, there are still lots of them out there.”
Kooran McDonald, who sells theater tickets at the corner of 34th Street and Fifth Avenue, the location of the Aug. 24 shooting, said she is not hoping for government actions anytime soon.
“Politics is all about money,” McDonald said. “The real effort has to come from within the communities, but it’s not going to be an overnight process.”
A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, Sept. 12 print edition. Anders Melin is a contributing writer. Email him at email@example.com.
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