Gunshots in a City

posted on July 25, 2021
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I’ve heard gunshots boom out close by on the streets of New York City.

The scariest was a string of shots that ricocheted up the canyons of glass and steel. I looked for a store to dive into as the gunshots echoed around. Most of those near me on the crowded Midtown Manhattan streets simply stopped and grew quizzical expressions. “Were those gunshots?” one asked. But to the few who knew the sound, it was shocking.

Still, it isn’t the sound you really remember. It’s the feeling of helplessness that comes with it. You suddenly know that out there, somewhere down the avenues and side streets, someone has fired a gun in a place where guns are basically not permitted. You also know damn well that no good, private citizen around you is armed. You certainly aren’t. Getting a permit to carry concealed in NYC takes connections, big-time connections.

So I looked around for a cop, for a hero in blue, and I knew they would come, but would they make it in time?

The two times I’ve heard gunshots on the streets of NYC, I never saw the person who fired the shots. I later dug into the local news sections to find out what happened. There was so much to dig through that it was hard to say which crime I had overheard. But I found them. One was a failed robbery. They never caught him. The other—this one occurred farther uptown—was gang-related.

Both events shook me. I can legally carry concealed upstate, but not on the increasingly dangerous streets of the city that doesn’t sleep. Anyone who has heard such gunshots or who has been mugged at knifepoint—this only happened to me once in NYC, and I was able to quickly dodge away and escape across a busy avenue—knows the helpless feeling that comes when you realize that in a shocking flash of a fluid moment, a criminal has the power to take your life.

Whether they catch him later or not is ultimately inconsequential if the criminal decides, out of fear, desperation or meanness, to kill you.

Now the U.S. Supreme Court has accepted New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn. v. Corlett. This NRA-backed challenge to NYC’s almost-complete ban on concealed carry is so critical. Right now, getting a permit to carry in the city requires a person to somehow prove a need to the authority’s satisfaction. Living or working in a high-crime area doesn’t count as a need.

As the Second Amendment protects “the right of the people to keep and bear arms,” and as the U.S. Supreme Court’s McDonald v. Chicago (2010) decision affirmed that Second Amendment protections apply to state and local governments, how can a city effectively take away this right?

The constitutional answer is they can’t; nevertheless, the Second Amendment has been treated, as Justice Clarence Thomas lamented, as “a disfavored right.”

The Ninth Circuit even recently determined: “There is no right to carry arms openly in public; nor is any such right within the scope of the Second Amendment.” That ruling supplemented the Ninth Circuit’s ruling from a few years back, when it said, “There is no Second Amendment right for members of the general public to carry concealed firearms in public.” So, no open carry and no concealed carry, according to the Ninth Circuit.

NYC’s political leaders, President Joe Biden (D) and others on the Left simply don’t trust individual Americans with their rights. They prefer the authoritarianism of centralized control. They simply don’t believe American citizens have the moral capacity to protect themselves and others. The U.S. Supreme Court needs to remind them that the Second Amendment is still in the U.S. Bill of Rights.


Joseph P. DeBergalis Jr.
Joseph P. DeBergalis Jr.

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