NYC Mayor Blames NRA and Guns for Recent Police Murders

By Jeff McKay | July 7, 2008 | 8:22 PM EDT

( - Following the shooting deaths of two New York City police officers in separate incidents over a two-week period, the city's mayor, Republican Michael Bloomberg, blamed the National Rifle Association for what he calls that group's influence on Congress.

Brooklyn police officer Dillon Stewart was killed Nov. 28. Bronx police officer Daniel Enchautegui died Dec. 10. Both officers were gunned down in the line of duty while attempting to make arrests. One of the guns involved was also allegedly used in the wounding of a third New York cop, Brooklyn's Wiener Philippe, on Nov. 19 during a robbery.

"Guns are flooding into the city from states like Pennsylvania and Virginia, where people can buy guns easily and then sell them in cities like New York to those who cannot legally acquire them, including drug dealers and other dangerous criminals," said Bloomberg in a recent radio address.

The city released 2003 data, which showed that 92 percent of all illegal guns came into New York from out of state.

"Fundamentally, if you want to solve the problem it is up to Congress, and Congress keeps getting rolled by the NRA," said Bloomberg during his weekly radio show. "This is plain and simple -- the NRA versus the lives of our children and our police officers," he said.

The gun used to kill Stewart in Brooklyn was discovered to be stolen from Florida. The suspect in that case, 27 year-old Allen Cameron, is also a suspect in the shooting of Philippe.

The Dec. 10 shooting of Enchautegui involved two drug suspects, one a career criminal - Steven Armento -- and the other an actor - Lillo Brancato Jr. -- who played aspiring mobster Matt Bevilacqua during the 2000 season of the HBO hit series, "The Sopranos."

Enchautegui was shot and killed in the Bronx after the suspects allegedly burglarized the home of the police officer's neighbor looking for drugs. Enchautegui, who identified himself as a police officer before gunfire was exchanged, shot both suspects after he was wounded, according to police reports. When police responded to Enchautegui's 9-1-1 call, they found the officer bleeding to death in his own driveway.

The Washington State-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) criticized Bloomberg for blaming guns and not the perpetrators who killed Officers Stewart and Enchautegui.

"New York City has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, where honest citizens find it incredibly difficult to purchase and own firearms," said CCRKBA Executive Director Joe Waldron. "New York's complaints about gun trafficking from other states led to one-gun-a-month laws in those states, yet the mayor still contends that there are too many guns.

"Maybe if it were easier for law-abiding citizens in New York to own and carry firearms for their personal protection," Waldron continued, "criminals might find New York City to be an environment they want to avoid altogether."

Waldron said a big part of the problem is that "we live in a world with too many politicians like Bloomberg, who are quick to blame inanimate objects for the acts of criminals."

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer released a statement vowing to introduce legislation allowing New York City police officers access to information from the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives National Tracing Center about stolen guns and all guns used during the commission of crimes.

Schumer's plan takes aim at a congressional amendment passed two years ago that restricts access to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' tracing data.

State political leaders, including Bloomberg, are also pushing for harsher penalties for anyone convicted of attacking police officers. The "Crimes Against Cops Law" would boost the length of prison terms for anyone who commits such a crime.

While New York City's Republican mayor, the state's Democratic U.S. senator and other leading Democrats want to change gun laws, nearly seven of ten people who responded to a New York 1 News poll disagreed. Asked whether they thought "stricter gun control laws would have made a difference in the cases of Officers Dillon Stewart and Daniel Enchautegui," the clear majority said changing the laws would have little or no effect.

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