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Spouting Maloney

Spouting Maloney

Photo credit: Gary Locke

Now and then it’s worth taking a deep breath and asking those who want to force us to be defenseless victims what their agenda really is. So I recently called U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., since she has proposed several measures in Congress lately that would punish you financially for being a gun owner, that would ban your guns and that would make you somehow—no one knows how—install not-yet-invented “smart-gun” technology into your handguns.

The phone rang in her Capitol Hill office. A congressional aide answered and referred me to Maloney’s press secretary, Mike Morosi—who never responded to my interview request.

I’ve interviewed many congressmen, so I know the game. People like Maloney speak only to media members who support their ploys and schemes. Other inquiries are simply ignored.By studying gun violence as a disease that needs to be treated with gun control, this idea turns the Centers for Disease Control into an anti-gun propaganda machine, which doesn’t need to be funded by tax dollars of lawful gun owners.

Still, it’s both gentlemanly and good journalism to give people a chance to explain themselves before ripping them apart in public. And the thing is, the questions Maloney should be asked by the media are tantalizing: Does she really believe forcing gun owners to buy liability insurance will keep criminals from shooting people? What “smart-gun” technology has she seen that convinced her the technology can realistically be added to all our guns? What evidence leads her to believe that criminals are purchasing firearms at gun shows? Does she really want to give $10 million to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to study “gun violence” because she thinks gun violence is a disease? 

After such naïve questions—naïve because they go along with the fiction that Maloney really believes her anti-gun bills would make America safer—it would be interesting to find out if she has ever fired a gun; if she has armed security (she has the Capitol Hill police for one, but it would be interesting to hear how she rationalizes her safety over yours); who her advisers on the issues related to guns are, etc. 

Anyway, though it would be lively and no doubt amusing to explore the boundaries of Maloney’s gun knowledge—or more likely, lack thereof—investigative reporting turns up plenty on her real agenda. In fact, as you’ll see, the facts show her to be politically crass, either ignorant or malicious—even for a politician—and, oh yeah, that she hates not just your freedom, but also poor people. More on that as we go.

First, Just Who Is Rep. Maloney?

It’s worth beginning with a short profile of Maloney, as she is almost a caricature of the anti-gun crowd. 

Maloney represents New York state’s 12th Congressional District, which, yes, is located in New York City. Her district includes several neighborhoods in the east side of Manhattan, Greenpoint and western Queens. Manhattan’s Upper East Side has long been known for its wealth and out-of-touch elitism. Nearly a century ago, in 1923, Ernest Hemingway wrote that the denizens of this part of Manhattan “have all striven so hard for careless individuality of clothing that they have achieved a sort of uniformity of eccentricity.” He also called them “the weird lot.” 

The place hasn’t changed. Nor has its wealth left with all the many industries that have fled New York City. As of the 2000 U.S. Census, the Upper East Side contained the greatest concentration of individual wealth in Manhattan and had the most expensive real estate, when measured by the square foot, in the entire United States.

Maloney is actually from North Carolina. In 1970, she visited New York City and decided to stay. She began as a teacher and soon became an administrator for the New York City Board of Education. By 1977, she’d obtained a job working for the New York State Legislature, and later was elected to represent New York City’s 7th Council District. 

She was first elected to Congress in 1993. For the 2013 legislative session, Govtrack.us ranked Maloney as the fifth-highest among all representatives for “Bills Sponsored.” 

Let’s take this one at a time.

Mandatory Liability Insurance, Really?

Maloney wants you and every other gun owner to be forced to buy liability insurance or pay a $10,000 fine. A lot of experts in insurance law have pointed out that liability insurance would not deter gun violence, as criminal activity and suicides, which wouldn’t be covered by liability policies, make up 97 percent of firearm deaths. 

“To me, insurance is just a fancy way to discourage gun ownership by raising the cost of owning a gun,” Russell Roberts, an economics fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, told Bankrate. “I don’t think that’s a good idea because not everybody obeys the law. You would raise the cost for law-abiding citizens to own a gun without having any impact on those who illegally own a gun.”

Nevertheless, in May, Maloney introduced the “Firearm Risk Protection Act of 2015.” As of this writing—three weeks after the bill was introduced—the text of the bill wasn’t yet publicly available. But information her staff leaked to The Hill described the bill as requiring gun buyers to have liability insurance coverage before being “allowed” to purchase a firearm, and imposing a fine of $10,000 on those who do not comply. Maloney told the media (that she does talk to) that her gun insurance mandate is comparable to requirements that motor vehicle owners purchase liability insurance. Maloney, of course, is ignoring or doesn’t understand the legal difference between a constitutional right and a privilege. 

Maloney told the media (that she does talk to) that her gun insurance mandate is comparable to requirements that motor vehicle owners purchase liability insurance. Maloney, of course, is ignoring or doesn’t understand the legal difference between a constitutional right and a privilege. Obtaining and keeping a driver’s license is legally a privilege that states can revoke, whereas gun ownership is specifically protected from government infringement by the U.S. Bill of Rights.

This bill would also impose a form of firearm registration, as the insurance records could easily be accessed via subpoena by the government. But Maloney might have an even more cynical reason for the legislation: campaign donations. Since the leaking of her proposed bill, it has been revealed that one of Maloney’s biggest financial backers is the insurance industry. Data provided by OpenSecrets.org shows that PACs and individuals in the insurance industry rank third on Maloney’s donor list (up from fourth in 2012), providing Maloney’s campaign committee with nearly $90,000 for 2013-14. 

The “Gun Show Loophole”?

On May 15, Maloney introduced the “Gun Show Loophole Closing Act of 2015.” But as with most of Maloney’s anti-gun bills, at the time of this writing—a month after the bill was “introduced”—the text of the bill wasn’t publicly available on Congress.gov. Are these bills only political talking points for an anti-gun politician in a safe seat?

Let’s take it seriously anyway. This bill would require background checks on all firearm transactions occurring at gun shows. In the 1990s, gun control proponents began claiming that criminals were acquiring firearms at gun shows to avoid background checks. However, repeated surveys of prison inmates who possessed firearms at the time of their offenses revealed that less than 1 percent of them had acquired their firearms at gun shows. Also, under current federal law, a federally licensed dealer (FFL holder) must already do the required background checks before selling anyone a gun, whether at a gun show or not.

Mandated Smart Guns … Why?

Maloney, along with U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., also introduced “The Handgun Trigger Safety Act.” (At press time, the text for this bill was also curiously unavailable at Congress.gov.) According to its authors, this measure would mandate that all new handguns be “smart guns” (guns that only theoretically work for an “authorized” user) within five years, and that all handguns (even your grandfather’s Model 1911) be retrofitted with smart-gun technology within 10 years after the bill were to become law. 

Smart guns are an emerging and unproven technology. Some use biometric scanners, others require the user to wear a Bluetooth bracelet, and some ideas on the drawing board even require someone to receive a microchip implant that, if the system doesn’t fail, would unlock their gun. But there is no smart-gun technology that can currently be fit to every handgun on the market. No smart gun has yet proven itself in the marketplace. As The Shooting Wire noted, they might just as well mandate we all buy flying cars.

So, practically speaking, how are gun companies supposed to fit and retrofit (“The Handgun Trigger Safety Act” says they must do this) a new, unproven and emerging technology to every handgun in America? And even if this technology were miraculously available, why would consumers—people who are likely purchasing a handgun to protect themselves—want to put the unreliability of a battery-powered new technology in a nearly flawless mechanical instrument? With this in mind, the reason why people like Maloney and Markey want to mandate this technology is clear: It would result in a near-total handgun ban. 

I investigated the truth behind “smart guns” and other coming gun technology in my book The Future of the Gun (Regnery, 2014) and found that the threats of such mandates are also stopping gun companies from investing in any technology related to “smart guns.” So actually, Maloney and others behind such bills are impeding progress toward the so-called “gun-safety” technology they say they support. 

Gun Violence, A Disease?Truth is, Maloney cares more about her anti-gun politics than about people’s lives or safety, contrary to her claims otherwise.

In 2014, Maloney and Markey sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to put $10 million into the budget for the CDC to “conduct scientific research on the causes and prevention of gun violence.” They followed this up with this year’s “Gun Research Safety Bill.” There is a short summary of this bill on Congress.gov. The measure would give $10 million a year (2016-2021) to the CDC for “gun violence” research. 

The thing is, the CDC’s website actually doesn’t make a distinction between criminal murder and suicide. That’s an easy—and very political—way to massively inflate the statistics to make it seem as if gun violence is much worse than it is. By studying gun violence as a disease that needs to be treated with gun control, this idea turns the CDC into an anti-gun propaganda machine, which doesn’t need to be funded by tax dollars of lawful gun owners.

Maloney Doesn’t Care About Poor People

What all of these bills—from requiring that gun owners buy insurance to forcing them to buy expensive, problematic and thus-far-unavailable “smart-gun” technology—would certainly do, aside from all their attacks on a basic constitutional freedom, is make gun ownership much more expensive and legally onerous. This would make it especially difficult for low-income Americans to legally afford a gun for self-defense or other purposes. This shows that Maloney, and others backing these bills, really don’t care about the safety of poor people—citizens who, incidentally, are more likely to live in high-crime areas. 

Actually, it’s worse than that. These anti-gun politicians are also obfuscating their efforts to make certain that all law-abiding people can’t protect themselves and their loved ones. Truth is, Maloney cares more about her anti-gun politics than about people’s lives or safety, contrary to her claims otherwise.

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