Brian Birdnow

In a press conference last week New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg congratulated himself on having masterminded a sting operation wherein he sent undercover NYC agents to a gun show in Tucson, Arizona. These agents apparently bought guns at the show and Bloomberg intended the operation to illustrate the ease with which guns can be bought in Arizona. The fact that the gun show was officially sanctioned, that firearm ownership is legal in Arizona, and that the Second amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects private gun ownership apparently escaped the mayor’s notice. The concurrent fact, statistically proven, that relatively few Arizona gun show patrons travel to New York, in a given year, to commit felony offenses also merited no mayoral attention.

The voters of New York City elected Michael Bloomberg to the mayorship of the American metropolis in late 2001 and have re-elected him since. He won each of his mayoral races by healthy margins. Rather than playing Eliot Ness, the mayor could have concentrated his attention on problems such as the ruinous taxation forcing many upper middle class types to flee the NYC, the problems related to the Great Recession, which have hit New York as hard as most other American cities, even the rather mundane questions such as civic preparedness in areas such as snow removal. None of these issues have moved the mayor to action. Instead of tending to legitimate duties the Mayor of New York sent undercover investigators to a gun show in Arizona. What was the cost of this little escapade? A municipal government facing difficult financial decisions decides to run a BATF-like operation 2,500 miles from home. It is difficult to discern a legitimate purpose in Bloomberg’s deed. Did he merely intend to embarrass Arizona? Did he hope to feed the collective ego of his fan club, by making them feel superior to all of the armed yokels who populate places like Arizona and the rest of flyover country? No, this is standard operating procedure for a mayor who, like J. Edgar Hoover, loves favorable publicity.

Brian Birdnow

Brian E. Birdnow is a historian and teaches at a university in the St. Louis area.

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