So Caroline (Kennedy) is out and our Governor Paterson of New York has chosen who will fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton now that Clinton has moved on to become secretary of state.
She is Kristen Gillibrand, an upstate Democrat. No one knows very much about her except that, as the papers put it, she's "pro gun" which means that she was once endorsed by the National Rifle Association and has written on her website "I learned at an early age how to safely handle a gun and I believe that every law-abiding citizen should always have the right to bear arms."
But a relatively mild statement like this is enough to make a New York liberal Democrat apoplectic. State Representative Carolyn McCarthy has said she is "furious" and has told newspapers, "I will not show any support whatsoever. The majority of New Yorkers are trying to reduce gun violence...I'm not going to let New York be represented by someone who gets a 100 percent rating form the NRA." She is determined to run against Gillibrand when Gillibrand defends her seat next year (the Paterson appointment runs only till 2010) because gun views like these are simply "unacceptable."
McCarthy's tone of righteous indignation and utter horror at the Gillibrand choice stems from the fact that McCarthy's political career was launched, as things so often are these days, by high-profile victimhood. In this case, McCarthy, a political novice, lost her husband in 1983 to one of those horrific random-shooter-massacre incidents that occur far too often in America. She was elected to the state senate on a gun control platform.
One can identify with the burning need to do something, anything, after such an untimely loss, but what has always been so wrong-headed about McCarthy's political career is that the Long Island Railroad Massacre would be many peoples' nomination for an incident illustrating the basic injusice of many gun control laws. The Long Island Massacre is certainly not a slam-dunk illustration of why gun control works.
As I have seen living in Israel where 18-year-old men and women slung with M-16 rifles are everywhere, more guns do not necessarily make for more random mass murder. Each time a crime like this has been attempted in Israel (last year, for instance when a man began attempting to run people over with a massive Caterpillar digger), it is shut down within a few minutes by armed bystanders. The average number of dead coming out of these incidents in Israel has been 1 to 3 (including the murderer.)
And now Carolyn McCarthy is set to come sweeping back. I hope this time people will take the time to review what happened on that commuter train on that evening in 1983.
Read the op-ed here.