President Giuliani "Understands" The Second Amendment

During the mayoral tenure of Rudi Giuliani in New York City, crime went down significantly. He claims that it was as a result of his efforts at gun control. Because of this he claims that he understands the second amendment and its importance. If he said something else that was reported as him having said it, I'm not sure he does. And therefore I'm not sure I would want him to become president of the United States.

It is historical fact that crime rates dropped dramatically in the 1990's in New York City when Rudi Giuliani was mayor. Some credit goes to Mayor Giuliani. But mainly because he followed the actions of his predecessor, David Dinkins, who in the early 1990's initiated what turned out to be a 45% increase in the manpower in the NYPD.

Recently, implying that his efforts at gun-control had reduced the New York crime rate, candidate-for-US-president Giuliani, according to the Associated Press, had this to say about his efforts as mayor:

"I used gun control as mayor," [Giuliani] said at a news conference Saturday during a swing through California. But "I understand the Second Amendment. I understand the right to bear arms."

He said what he did as mayor would have no effect on hunting.

But according to economist and social scientist Steven D. Levitt, crime dropped significantly everywhere in the 1990s. New York's crime rate fell further than nearly any other metropolitan area, but the additional decrease was in direct proportion to the number of additional policemen that New York City added to its payroll.

So first of all, it troubles me that Mr. Giuliani believes that gun control works. According to Levitt and co-author Stephen J. Dubner, gun control isn't much more than a metal-collection drive. In a gun buyback, they say:

The number of of surrendered guns in no match for even the number of new guns simultaneously coming to market.

Their research also indicates that the Brady Law, passed in 1993, has done nothing to curb crime.

But what troubles me further is what I'm not sure Giuliani said, because the AP report does not put the statement in quotes. But the implication is that Rudolph Giuliani thinks that the second amendment to the Constitution was created to protect people's ability to use their guns for hunting.

Debates in colonial and post-colonial America make it clear that the reason for the second amendment is for a populace to be able to defend itself against a government run amok. Think of this--if a government knows that its citizenry does not have an efficient means to defend itself (read firearms), would it be more likely to invade people's homes an ransack their possessions?

This was one of the problems the second amendment was designed to remedy. Citizens of the USSR, who did not enjoy the right of self-protection, were subjected rather frequently to such invasive measures. Several countries throughout history have subscribed to the premise that government should do all the protecting--but in every such case, the protector has become the destroyer. Also, there are unfortunately and embarrassingly occasional such invasive violations by American service personnel of the Iraqi people's right to be so protected.

Hunting is an important right. But it is not mentioned in the Constitution, to include the Bill of Rights. So in a way, Mr. Giuliani is correct; the second amendment doesn't have anything to do with hunting.

But if he said what the AP said he said, then I don't want him to be President of the United States. Because if he said it, he does not understand the Second Amendment.


  1. You're right that the drop in crime was in large part because of the increase in police that started under Dinkins. Of course there were other factors. Some have concluded that Roe v. Wade was a factor in the drop in crime in the 90s because it prevented unwanted babies from being born in the 70s and being turned into criminals by abusive and neglectful parents who didn't want them.

    Rudy Giuliani seems to be taking credit for a lot of things that he didn't do. Another example is that he did not guide us through the aftermath of Sept. 11. The fact that New Yorkers came together after Sept. 11 is because that's what New Yorkers are like. We are tough people who like to help our neighbors in a crisis.

  2. We have never elected a president that didn't take credit for stuff they didn't actually do. Hey, they're politicians. What do you expect?

  3. Actually, it's what we've come to expect. But I think we can and should expect more. It would be easy, for example, for us to find out that David Dinkins had as much or more to do with reduction in NYC crime than Giuliani. But it would also be just as easy for Giuliani to admit it.


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