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In nearly a decade of South-of-the-border slaughter, the New York Times has never responded to the carnage by questioning Mexican gun-control laws. Instead, it regularly blames gun violence in Mexico on the lack of gun control in America. And last Friday’s Aurora, Colorado movie-house shooting has prompted the newspaper of record to solicit Mexico’s opinion of America’s largely permissive gun laws. It turns out that the inhabitants of one of the most violent places on the planet think that the U.S. has a gun problem. The piece contrasts the more 50,000 gun dealers in the United States to the one legal gun shop in all of Mexico. Mexico City correspondent Damien Cave explains, “Mexicans and Americans share many things—a love for pickup trucks, beef, national flags, and family—but when it comes to guns, the two countries are feuding neighbors.”
By Cave’s criteria, Mexico shares more with America than does Manhattan. More than eight million people squeeze into New York City. But the city permits gun ownership to only about 37,000 of those residents, about half of whom are former law enforcement officers or current security guards. Being rich, famous, and residing away from urban violence strangely helps in obtaining a firearms license from the city. Licensed gun owners include Howard Stern, Robert De Niro, Donald Trump, Edgar Bronfman Sr., and Tommy Mottola.
America is not like Manhattan. New York City has about 120 police officers per square mile. In the rest of the United States, there is about a law enforcement officer—using the loosest definition possible—every five square miles. Put another way, there is almost always a policeman within shouting distance of danger in New York City. Elsewhere in America, it helps to have a gun when danger encroaches.
It’s harder to get a gun in New York City than it is in the nation that surrounds. It’s also easier to get murdered in New York City than it is in the nation that surrounds. There are plenty of reasons beyond the gun laws why this is so. The tiny island of Manhattan, of course, differs in so many ways from the massive country encompassing it. It would be nice if Mayor Bloomberg and the editors of his city’s leading newspaper reminded themselves of this when trying to impose their city’s laws upon their countrymen.
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