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Rudy Giuliani

Rudy's Gun Control Agenda
by John Velleco
Director of Federal Affairs

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 about his views of the Second Amendment by Sean Hannity of Fox News, Giuliani attempted to tap dance around his gun control record without alienating the 290 million people 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 the 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."

Apparently, in Giuliani's America law-abiding citizens in large cities would not enjoy the same constitutional liberties as the rest of the country. Why? Are city dwellers not as trustworthy as country folks? 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.1

If Giuliani's gun control agenda was really limited 'only' to big cities, that would be disturbing enough. But the record shows that the Mayor continually tried to export his gun control agenda to the rest of the nation.

The new Giuliani of state's rights simply does not square with the Mayor of the '90s.

In 1993, before even being sworn in as mayor, Giuliani met with then-President Clinton at the White House to discuss national gun registration. Giuliani supported the Brady bill, which had recently passed, but argued that it didn't go far enough.

The President, largely crediting Giuliani for the idea, enthusiastically sent Attorney General Janet Reno off to develop a gun licensing and registration system.2

The Clinton-Giuliani scheme was slowed only by the Republican Revolution of 1994.

In May of 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."3

When the ban passed, Giuliani commented that, "This is an important step towards curtailing the indiscriminate proliferation of guns across the nation."4 [emphasis added]

When a lunatic attacked innocent civilians at the Empire State Building in 1997, Mayor 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," the Mayor said.

"The United States Congress needs to pass uniform licensing for everyone carrying a gun."5

When the Mayor 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 even of an emergency. Such a law would be enforced, said the Mayor, through "criminal penalties and the revocation of gun permits."6

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 Republican 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.7

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 that, "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."8

New York Senator Chuck Schumer also gleefully accepted Giuliani's support of the semi-auto ban. According to a Newsday article, Schumer hoped Giuliani would "sway some skittish Republicans."9

The following year, when the Republican controlled Congress tried to repeal the gun ban, Giuliani made the trip to Washington to testify against the repeal effort.

So, if the new Rudy Giuliani in fact supports state's rights in the area of gun control, it is a dramatic shift from the policies he has been advocating for over a decade.

This flirtation with federalism is merely a facade, 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. 10

  1. Interestingly, when Giuliani addressed the conservative CPAC group in March of this year, he credited the decline in New York's crime rate, which was significant, not to gun control but to the implementation of certain policing strategies based on James Q. Wilson's Broken Windows theory. Though not without controversy, New York police officials took petty crime more seriously, based on the belief that petty criminals would eventually turn into more dangerous and violent criminals.
  2. Washington Times, December 8, 1993
  3. Newsday, May 3, 1994
  4. Newsday, May 6, 1994
  6. Mayor Proposes a Law Requiring Trigger Locks on All Guns; The New York Times, May 19, 1998
  8. Minneapolis Star-Tribune, August 13, 1994
  9. Rudy used by Dems to push gun control; Newsday 5/3/1994
  10. Hannity and Colmes, February 5, 2007