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Gun Safety Gala Tonight in New York City

In Crime, politics on October 6, 2009 at 1:22 pm
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It’s a fund-raiser held three times every year, in Manhattan tonight at the New York Historical Society at 6pm; for a last-minute ticket, try calling the Brady Center. Newark mayor Cory Booker will be there as an honored guest, as will Carole Stiller, president of the New Jersey Million Mom March chapters. Tickets ranged from $250 for an individual to $25,000 for a table of 10.

I spoke briefly today to Paul Helmke, the Brady Center’s president for the past three years, as he rode the train from D.C. to New York:

“Things are down a little from last year, but we still have a good strong, turnout, about 140 people. New people are coming and this shows us that people still care about gun violence in this country. People are sensing that the other side is pushing further and further all the time. Now they want guns on trains, in public parks, at presidential events, in bars.”

Speaking to me from an Amtrak car, what does he think of guns on trains?

“We’re very skeptical of the wisdom on this. The rules were initially put into place after 9/11 when there was a lot of fear about potential terrorist attacks on trains, and then there were the attacks on trains in Madrid. But if they’re going to change the rules, they need to go through some hearings and decide how to do it. The difference between carrying a gun on airplane and on a train is that the luggage on a train is not kept as separately as on a plane. At this stage, we think the best approach to that decision is — don’t change it.”

I met Paul at a Brady Center event in July and admire his ideas, his energy and his candor. Fighting gun violence remains complex, difficult and essential.

  1. There is something disturbing about the idea of everyone packing a weapon, especially if the cities have no control over it at all as the supreme court will soon decide. In the old west the mark of civilization was the ban on guns in town. The Earp Brothers thought it might be better if they were the only ones armed. Here in Los Angeles there are gang areas where everyone is armed and it is not safer as the NRA would have us believe.

    Now if the city loses it’s right to handgun restriction there will also be no limit to the type of handgun. There are some out there that can fire dozens of rounds in seconds, pretty scary thought in a narrow train car. Then there is the issue of ammo, some military ammo is illegal, will it still be? There are bullets that if one hit you in shoulder would destroy it quite unlike the movies.

    The most frightening aspect would be that I would have to arm myself with one of the hated things.

  2. I sometimes wonder if the tactic of going after absolute 2nd Amendment rights — guns allowed on trains, guns allowed in Nat’l Parks, guns allowed in the Smithsonian — is way the gun lobby has of keeping the anti-gunners fighting on so many additional fronts that what gun rights Americans already have are left alone. It’s like fighting over the spinach to protect the roast, but with the spinach being of additional 2A nutrition.

  3. Scott, I think your analysis is a smart one. I agree. Sort of keeping them on the ropes, as it were.

  4. Am I reading the pricing right? An individual ticket costs $250, but a table of ten costs $25,000? So an attendee could buy ten tickets for $2,500, but she should be willing to pay an extra $22,500 for the privilege of reserving a table for those ten people?

    I would have assumed it was a typo (and it might very well be) except that these Brady Campaign events have a history of being crazy by my standards.

    This is something I’ve written about over and over–while they’re hoping for 140 people in New York City for a gala annual event and charging them out the nose, my grassroots group is stomping the Brady group here in Illinois on a shoestring. We scrape by on almost no money, but we have the volunteers and the people who really care about the issue. They have almost no popular support (not people who want their names in the paper for going to a dinner, but people who will wear out shoe leather working for their issue) but the few they have are soakable rich folks.

    Even the supposedly rich NRA got that way by taking small donations from millions of members, selling them $5 raffle tickets and $25 banquet tickets–not deca-millions from George Soros or the Joyce Foundation.

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