One person’s “reasonable and sensible” gun laws aren’t always another’s. So when Rudy Giuliani recognizes that the Second Amendment guarantees people the right to bear arms subject to “reasonable and sensible” laws, it really doesn’t tell us much. Yet one thing is for sure though: Giuliani is hardly a “strict constructionist” on constitutional matters, at least when it comes to the Second Amendment. It is a long ways from “shall not be infringed” to “shall infringe whenever Congress has a ‘reasonable and sensible’ justification.”
For those who support the Second Amendment, the main problem is that Giuliani has rarely met a gun regulation he didn’t see as “reasonable and sensible.” In 2000, he pointed out how he was “a very strong supporter of gun-control legislation” and called for everything from federal gun-licensing and registration to banning guns based upon their price.
Only in the last couple of months has he finally gone on the record as opposing a gun law: he came out against re-imposing the assault-weapons ban. Yet he originally supported this law when it was first adopted, and he wanted it renewed as recently as 2004, when it expired.
His support for all these gun laws isn’t too surprising given his belief that “the single biggest connection between violent crime and an increase in violent crime is the presence of guns in your society . . . . the more guns you take out of society, the more you are going to reduce murder. The less guns you take out of society, the more it is going to go up.”
Giuliani is justifiably proud of New York City’s dramatic drops in violent crime during the 1990s, but his claim that “the single biggest” factor was taking guns off the street is weak, to say the least. There is no academic research by economists or criminologists that indicates that gun control mattered at all. But there are other more obvious explanations, including the massive increase in the number of full-time sworn police officers, which grew from 26,844 in 1990 to 55,408 by 2000. The growth in the per capita number of officers in New York City was roughly five times the rate in other large cities. The city also greatly improved its hiring standards and increased officer pay.