While Congress investigates the involvement of federal law enforcement agents in the "Fast and Furious" Mexican gun trafficking scandal, Business Week reports that five current and three retired New York City police officers, along with a former New Jersey corrections officer and three other individuals, have been charged with trafficking M16s, handguns and shotguns -- some with defaced serial numbers -- as part of a $1 million scheme.
Covering the same story, the New York Times noted that "the arrests come at a difficult time" for the NYPD, because another several dozen of its officers are already accused or are likely to face charges of planting drugs, lying under oath, violating the civil rights of innocent victims, and fixing traffic tickets.
The slew of arrests also comes at a difficult time for the rest of the city. While the nation's murder rate decreased five percent between 2009 and 2010, in New York City -- where gun ownership is severely restricted -- it increased 15 percent. Still moving in the wrong direction, thus far in 2011, the number of shooting victims in the city is slightly higher than during the same period last year. And during a weeklong period earlier this month, the number of people shot there rose 154 percent over the 2010 tally.
Billionaire Michael Bloomberg, whose hobbies include being the mayor of New York City and heading the anti-gun group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, claimed at the end of 2009 that New York was "the safest big city in America." Three months later, however, it became known that the city had experienced a 20 percent increase in murders while murders were declining elsewhere in America. Improvising with the best of them, Bloomberg blamed the city's sorry trend on budget cuts reducing the police department's manpower. However, data reported by the FBI showed that compared to other cities of over one million population, New York had more police officers per capita than Los Angeles, Houston, Phoenix Las Vegas, San Antonio, San Diego, and Dallas, and about the same number as Chicago and Philadelphia.
All of those cities, save Chicago, have much less restrictive firearm laws than New York, of course. And five of the eight are in states that have "shall issue" Right-to-Carry permit laws. Lest permit holders who live in states other than New York become eligible to carry in the Empire State and its Big Apple, Bloomberg opposes H.R. 822, Rep. Cliff Stearns' National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act. Bloomberg, who wants Congress to prohibit private sales of firearms in states where the legislatures steadfastly refuse to do so, says "When it comes to public safety, Congress has no business telling states, cities and police how to do their jobs." Obviously, he thinks that's a job best left to him.