“My View” from the Aug. 7, 2012, edition of “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer.”
Again — for the second time in just over two weeks. The horror of a crazed, gun-wielding maniac wreaking havoc and death on a community. In the case of Oak Creek, Wis., because of a right-wing racist agenda that seeks to blame “others” for the severe problems of the sick individual who pulls the trigger. Yes, people pull the trigger — but guns are the instrument of death.
Gun control is necessary, and delay means merely more death and horror.
So what have we heard from the presidential contenders? Pablum.
Romney hides behind a misunderstanding of the Second Amendment and the White House blames Congress. Here’s White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Monday:
Jay Carney: He does support renewing the assault weapons ban. I think what I’ve noted in the past, and what I noted here, is that there has been reluctance by Congress to pass that renewal.
Here’s a different idea: If the White House really wants to act and not just give us more rhetoric — something it’s very good at — it has the tools to do so. And so for that matter does Mike Bloomberg, one of the few clarion voices speaking out for gun control.
Use government’s power in the marketplace as the largest purchaser of guns to force the companies we buy from to act properly.
I first proposed this idea when I was attorney general of New York in 2000, but it was impossible to forge a coalition of executives willing to act. Maybe things have finally changed.
The government uses its power in the marketplace this way all the time. Just two examples: The infamous TARP program conditioned bailout funds on limits to executive compensation, and properly so; and contractors who want to work for many government entities at the municipal level in particular have to pay a living wage and ensure diversity in their workforce.
Here’s how it could work with guns:
The Defense Department and the City of New York are among the largest purchasers of guns. If the president and the mayor truly believe that semi-automatic weapons should not be available to private purchasers and that magazines with more than 10 bullets should not be sold over the counter, then simply say this: The federal government and the City of New York will not buy any weapons or ammo from companies that do not agree to pull semi-automatics from their stock or from companies that keep producing magazines with more than 10 rounds other than for sale to the government.
For example, the president and Mayor Bloomberg should announce that the semi-automatic handguns with high-capacity magazines used in Oak Creek, Aurora, Colo., Tucson, Ariz., and Virginia Tech can longer be sold to private citizens by any company that wants to do business with the federal government and the City of New York.
The major gun manufacturers will agree to this limit imposed by their major customers.
Use the power of the government as a purchaser — as a consumer — to get the companies marketing these products to change their behavior. And do it now. Stop blaming the legislature. Act immediately.
That’s “My View.”