Statement on Gun Control in America

John S. Kiernan

President’s Statement, October 2017

The New York City Bar Association offers its deepest condolences to all those affected by the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas. This heartbreak touches every American and we grieve for those who were injured and for families who lost loved ones. We are thankful for the quick and heroic actions of law enforcement and first responders. And while we must grieve, we also must act. The tragedy in Las Vegas, the worst mass shooting in modern American history, is the latest in a series of mass shootings in a country that makes it far too easy for one person to arm himself – legally – with the capacity to kill and maim scores of innocent people in less than a few minutes’ time. We echo the sentiments expressed by many New York elected officials that the time to talk about our gun laws is now.

The debate surrounding our gun laws has become a played out broken record; the circumstances may change slightly, different solutions may be proposed, but the outcome is the same – nothing changes and more Americans die every day from gun violence. So how do we move forward? First, we should admit that the United States is a clear outlier when it comes to guns, with Americans 10 times more likely to be killed by guns than people in other developed countries (source: World Health Organization). Although New York has been a leader in the regulation of firearms, the lack of effective federal gun control measures puts New Yorkers, along with the rest of the nation, in continued jeopardy. Second, we must demand a sensible, bipartisan approach from elected officials that focuses on commonsense fixes to our laws. A start would be a renewed look at the lapsed federal assault weapon ban and, at the very least, taking steps to prevent such weapons from easily functioning as automatic weapons through the use of bump stocks and other devices.

We urge Congress to conduct hearings at which all potential solutions to this national crisis can be discussed and explored. We must come together to think broadly and to act boldly to combat gun violence. Only then will we be able to say that, as a country, we have tried our best to prevent another tragedy.

John S. Kiernan is President of the New York City Bar Association