New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s war on gun violence will intensify as he announces the city’s first lawsuits against rogue gun dealers and to press the state legislature to toughen the penalties for criminal gun possession, the New York Times reports. The mayor vows to use “every means at our disposal,” from legislation to litigation, to curb the influx of out-of-state weapons, which the city says account for 82 percent of guns used in crimes. The Times says, however, that “his high-profile quest to curb guns seems to hit mostly roadblocks once he leaves the five boroughs.” It remains to be seen whether any mayor can make headway on gun policy, largely the province of the federal government.
“Bloomberg is swimming upstream against the national political tides on this issue,” said Robert J. Spitzer, a political scientist at the State University of New York at Cortland. Spitzer added: “The likelihood of success for him is slim. The officials who have the greatest potential ability to influence this – the governors of Southern states – are unlikely to be sympathetic to him. The federal administration and Republican leaders in Washington have no interest in his agenda.” Locally, gun courts, where a designated judge handles most cases involving illegal gun possession, have been set up since 2003 in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. Jail sentences for gun possession are now one year or longer in 79 percent to 90 percent of cases, up from 45 percent to 51 percent in 2001.