New York-Style Justice Disarms the Victims

In Times Square on Saturday, a street vendor named Farrakhan Muhammad got in an argument with his brother and tried to shoot him. With the surgical precision for which petty criminals are known, the man instead wounded three bystanders, including a four-year-old girl. One of the victims said she is unlikely to visit New York again until the city has stricter gun laws.

But New York City already has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. Muhammad was carrying an illegal gun illegally—that is, the gun was illegally owned and illegally carried. If he had obtained the gun legally, Muhammad would have been required to attend a government-approved safety class in which he would have learned that you may not discharge a weapon indiscriminately in Times Square while attempting to murder your brother (this is covered on the first day).

If the gun had been legal, it would also have meant Muhammad had paid hundreds of dollars in permitting fees, had obtained letters of recommendation from friends attesting to his good character, had been fingerprinted by the police, had waited several months to obtain the permit to purchase this particular pistol (on which he would have had to put down an advance deposit, its serial number having been submitted to the state), and he would then have had to wait a year after obtaining the permit to apply for a further permit to carry the weapon, for which he would have had to demonstrate to the satisfaction of New York a valid reason for needing to do so. 

I very much doubt that Muhammad did any of this. 

And when someone is already breaking four or five different laws, it’s hard to imagine a sixth law on the same subject being the deciding factor.

It’s also hard to imagine how gun laws could become stricter in New York. In fact, any weapon that might be remotely useful for self-defense is prohibited. That includes pepper spray, tasers, blackjacks, batons, nunchucks, coshes of any sort, including a coin purse that has a handle, slingshots, and sandbags. Don’t get caught trying to defend yourself in the city with an illicit sandbag: That’s criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree. 

When I was first planning my move into the city some years ago, I asked a New York prosecutor whether the folding utility blade I carried was legal. She looked at the knife and began trying to open it with one hand. On her tenth try, she succeeded in getting the knife open. She told me then that it “might be” illegal, but would depend on the prosecutor assigned to my case: If the prosecutor could open the knife with one hand, no matter how many tries it took him, the knife was illegal. 

Last week, a friend of mine was walking across Central Park in the afternoon when she was accosted by a black man twice her size. The man engaged her in conversation and then began to follow her. She could not disengage herself. He was alternately very friendly and very aggressive—he might have been on drugs. She tried to make clear her distress to people who passed by her in the park, but no one helped her. After an hour of talking as calmly as she could to this man, she finally managed to edge herself out of the park, and though he followed her onto the street, she was able to jump into a cab.  

In a situation like this, no weapon short of a firearm—not even a sandbag—will be very useful. Firearms give the weak a chance to defend themselves against the strong. Hence the saying “God created men, Sam Colt made them equal.” You might wish to rely on the police in a situation like the one above, but right now the NYPD has better things to do than to patrol Central Park in broad daylight. They’re busy being defunded and not stopping-and-frisking because it’s racist. 

To the leftists now in control of the city, this situation is ideal: Criminals are protected to the point where they can carry weapons in New York’s most densely populated areas (do you think Muhammad is the only one?). Meanwhile, honest folk are at the mercy of the robber, the addict, and the criminally insane. The Left has a history of using criminals to terrorize people: As far back as the French Revolution, the socially progressive element enlisted the aid of street thugs against the bourgeoisie, because they viewed traditional crimes like theft, rape, and murder as mere protests against an unjust social system. The Soviets used to put violent criminals over political prisoners as foremen in the gulags, and would assign a pair of criminals to each trainload of political prisoners to beat, rob, and murder them. 

The ongoing destruction of our cities is deliberate. It is the logical result of a belief that criminals are the victims of social injustice, and that the criminals’ victims are the perpetrators of that injustice. There is nothing accidental in today’s New York. It is exactly what the Left wanted—only not yet violent enough, not yet dangerous enough.  

The question is what New Yorkers are willing to do about it, aside from continuing to get robbed and shot. Many don’t have the luxury of fleeing to other states and jobs. Many don’t have doorman buildings with fancy security. When I last returned to the city, I was strongly tempted to bring a pistol with me for self-defense. But, fearing the strict gun laws rather more than did Muhammad, I instead remain as the city would like me to be: Unarmed and defenseless.  

The right to keep and bear arms is guaranteed by the Constitution. The right to life is guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence. Apparently, neither of those documents carries much weight in New York City. The Supreme Court agreed in April to hear a Second Amendment case that could bear on New York’s restrictions of the rights of its citizens, but even with a favorable decision, I wouldn’t hold my breath: The law in New York isn’t for politicians to follow, and it isn’t for criminals. It’s only for you.


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About Dan Gelernter

Dan Gelernter is a columnist for American Greatness living in Florida.

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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