Rudy's Gun-Control Agenda

The 2007 version of Rudy Giuliani defends his past support of gun control as a necessary evil to fight crime in a big city.

When pressed recently about his views on the 2nd Amendment by Sean Hannity of Fox News, Giuliani attempted to tap dance around his gun-control record without alienating the 290 million Americans who don’t live in New York City. The former mayor told Hannity that gun control was “appropriate” for the city, but that states and cities should be allowed to make those decisions locally.

“So,” Hannity continued, “you would support a state’s rights to choose on specific gun laws?”

“Yes, I mean, a place like New York that is densely populated or maybe a place that is experiencing a serious crime problem … maybe you have one solution there and in another place, more rural, more suburban, other issues, you have a different set of rules,” answered Giuliani.

Apparently, in Giuliani’s America, law-abiding citizens in large cities would not enjoy the same constitutional liberties as the rest of the country. Are metro-Americans not deserving of the right to self-protection?

Disarming citizens because they live in a high-crime area is taking away the most effective means of self defense from the people who need it most. Creating mandatory victims is no way to fight a crime problem.

If Giuliani’s gun-control agenda were really limited “only” to big cities, that would be disturbing enough. But the record shows that Rudy continually tried to export his gun-control agenda to the rest of the nation.

The new Giuliani of states’ rights simply does not square with the mayor of the ’90s.

In 1993, Giuliani met with then-President Clinton to discuss national gun registration and supported the Brady bill, which had recently passed, but Rudy argued that it didn’t go far enough. Clinton, largely crediting Giuliani for the idea, enthusiastically sent Atty. Gen. Janet Reno off to develop a gun-licensing and registration system.

In May 1994, as the battle over the ban on certain semi-automatic firearms reached its height, Giuliani threw his support behind the ban. On the eve of the final vote, he noted that so-called assault weapons “have no legitimate purpose.” When the ban passed, Giuliani commented that “this is an important step toward curtailing the indiscriminate proliferation of guns across the nation.”

When a lunatic attacked innocent civilians at the Empire State Building in 1997, Giuliani used the tragedy to again push for gun control beyond his city’s limits: “We need a federal law that bans all assault weapons, and if in fact you do need a handgun, you should be subjected to at least the same restrictions—and really stronger ones—that exist for driving an automobile. … Congress needs to pass uniform licensing for everyone carrying a gun.”

When Rudy did focus on city gun laws, which already were among the most stringent in the country, his effort was only to further disarm the law-abiding.

In 1998, Giuliani pushed a proposal that would require gun owners to use “trigger locks” on all firearms, thus rendering the guns useless in the event of an emergency. Such a law would be enforced, he said, through “criminal penalties and the revocation of gun permits.”

If Giuliani had a federalist conversion, it did not occur in his first six years as mayor, for in 2000, he again took his gun-control show on the road.

In becoming the first GOP mayor to launch a city lawsuit against gun makers, Giuliani complained that “less restrictive gun laws in other parts of the country” exacerbated the crime problem in New York City.

Giuliani is not only a long-time supporter of gun control, but his support was convenient to leading anti-gun Democrats eager for the appearance of bipartisanship. A big-city mayor supporting gun control is hardly newsworthy. The fact that Giuliani is a Republican gave the story its man-bites-dog angle.

In the midst of the fight over the 1994 crime bill and semi-auto gun ban, Giuliani escorted President Clinton to Minnesota to stump for the bill. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune noted, “Clinton seemed especially proud that New York’s Republican Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, as well as Philadelphia’s Democratic Mayor Edward Rendell, agreed to accompany him on his trip.”

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer (D.) also gleefully accepted Giuliani’s support of the semi-auto ban. According to Newsday, Schumer hoped Giuliani would “sway some skittish Republicans.”

In 1995, when a Republican-controlled Congress tried to repeal the gun ban, Giuliani testified against the repeal effort.

Federalism Façade

So if the new Rudy Giuliani in fact supports states’ rights in the area of gun control, it is a dramatic shift from the policies he has been advocating for more than a decade.

This flirtation with federalism is merely a façade, however, for in the recent interview with Sean Hannity, Giuliani assured gun owners that he supports only gun-control laws that are “reasonable and sensible.” He then went on to defend his support of the Brady bill and the semi-auto ban, which are neither.