by Bob Barr
An attack by a knife-wielding assailant Saturday night at the home of a rabbi in Monsey, New York — a normally quiet community just north of New York City – left five individuals injured, two critically.
While Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took to the media to condemn the attack, they failed to mention how difficult it is in the Empire State, especially in the New York City metropolitan area, for citizens to arm themselves in their own homes to defend against such vicious attacks.
The attacker was arrested shortly after the late evening attack, but his motive remains unclear. However, the location and timing of the attack — during a Hanukkah celebration at the home of a well-known rabbi right next door to the orthodox congregation he leads — lends credence to early assessment that it was yet another in a recent spate of anti-Semitic attacks in and around the Big Apple. The county in which the rabbi’s home is located — Rockland County — is home to the largest per capita population of Jews in the entire country.
During an appearance Sunday at the site of the attack, Cuomo labeled it “domestic terrorism” and vowed to “strengthen” New York’s state laws to prosecute such acts; notwithstanding such laws already being among the most robust in the nation. New York’s Attorney General, Letitia James, declared herself “deeply disturbed” by the attack. Democrat presidential candidate Julian Castro, a vocal gun control advocate who regularly blisters the NRA for expressing its “thoughts and prayers” for victims of mass shootings, declared on social media that his “thoughts are with the Jewish community.” Calls for increased police presence were common.
The most shamelessly partisan response came from de Blasio. In a Sunday interview on Fox News, the mayor bloviated at length about homelessness as a relevant factor in assessing the knife attack. Hizzoner expressly intimated that President Trump bore at least some responsibility for the attack, because of the Administration’s failure to adequately fund programs to reduce homelessness.
None of these, or other political leaders weighing in on the incident, however, touched on the elephant in the room: the difficulty New Yorkers — especially those in communities like Rockland within the New York City metropolitan area — face if they want to have a handgun at home to defend against armed individuals breaking in.
In Rockland County, the process to which residents must submit to lawfully possess a handgun in their own residence is expensive, cumbersome and lengthy.
An applicant for a pistol permit must pay an initial fee of $150 and submit an application that is neither “soiled” nor “folded,” and which contains among other requirements, character references from other Rockland County residents who are not related by blood or marriage, along with notarized forms from other household members asserting that they are okay with the applicant possessing a pistol; certification that he or she has completed a County administered firearms safety course; and several information release authorizations so the authorities are able to access and assess the applicant’s legal, mental and medical suitability to have a pistol in their home for self-defense.
All this, of course, is in addition to federal law that makes it unlawful for anyone prohibited under federal law from possessing a firearm anywhere, including in the state of New York.
In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court declared it constitutionally impermissible for any state to prohibit an individual from possessing a firearm inside their home. In the past nine years, however, states like New York and counties like Rockland have imposed or continued to enforce numerous regulatory mandates making it extremely difficult, often close to impossible, for individuals to obtain a “license” to do nothing more than what our Bill of Rights reflects as the most fundamental of all God-given rights — that of self-defense.
No matter how much money the government provides for “homelessness,” and no matter how many law enforcement officers Cuomo or de Blasio direct to crime-ridden neighborhoods, so long as they are permitted to erect barriers preventing citizens from protecting themselves and others within their homes with a firearm, tragedies such as the one in Rockland County will continue to plague us.
Bob Barr (http://www.twitter.com/BobBarr) represented Georgia in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He currently serves as president and CEO of the https://laweef.org/.