By Alex P. Vidal
“Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely.”—Buddha
BEFORE I found New York to be my second home, I was already exposed to street violence as a kid in our gang-infested neighborhood in Iloilo City in the Philippines in the 70’s.
I saw the actual Injan Pana or slingshot arrows pierce on the necks and legs of gang members during free-for-all brawls in front of our house; I saw a body nearly sliced into half when a student caught the fleeing snatcher and swung a medical knife on his back, among other grisly street scenes.
Thus, I consider the bloody episodes in the subway and the gang-related violence being reported regularly in the criminal colonies of Brooklyn, Bronx, and Queens to be “peanuts.”
But when the subject matter swerved into the use of a gun as a weapon to harm and kill, it’s completely a different story.
The question on my mind would be to fear, or not to fear.
If I fear, I can’t live a normal life in “the city that never sleeps.” If I don’t fear, I may become complacent and throw cushion to the wind.
If I don’t feel anything or feign innocence of what’s going on in the Empire State, the better. What we don’t feel can’t harm or kill us.
But on Thursday (June 23), New Yorkers were stunned when news broke out that the Supreme Court has struck down a New York law that placed strict restrictions on carrying concealed firearms in public for self defense, finding its requirement that applicants seeking a concealed carry license demonstrate a special need for self-defense is unconstitutional.
The question in New Yorker’s mind now is also to fear, or not to fear.
If Governor Cathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams were to be believed in their respective speeches hours after the 6-3 SC ruling was revealed, we have a good reason to shake in our boots.
“Today’s Supreme Court decision may have opened an additional river that is going to feed the sea of gun violence in our city and in our nation,” Adams declared.
“Now is the time for every elected official, who cares about the safety of all Americans, to come together and respond thoroughly and comprehensively to this appalling decision. Our work begins now to start saving New Yorkers and Americans.”
Hochul slammed the SC decision on concealed handguns as “absolutely shocking” and said she was “sorry this dark day has come.”
We all know that gun control has been our major problem for weeks now in the heels of the Buffalo (New York) and Uvalde (Texas) horrors and the reported random shootings in the subway that prompted 51 percent of New Yorkers, in a recent survey, to avoid the subway that connects all the major boroughs in the Big Apple.
Held dear by many Americans and promised by the country’s 18th century founders, gun rights are a contentious issue in a nation with high levels of firearms violence including numerous mass shootings. Just in recent weeks, 19 children and two teachers were killed on May 24 at an elementary school in Uvalde and 10 people were slain on May 14 at a grocery store in Buffalo.
“This ruling contradicts both common sense and the Constitution, and should deeply trouble us all,” said President Biden, who condemned the SC decision and considered gun violence as national embarrassment. “In the wake of the horrific attacks in Buffalo and Uvalde, as well as the daily acts of gun violence that do not make national headlines, we must do more as a society – not less – to protect our fellow Americans.”
The Supreme Court has reversed a lower court decision upholding New York’s 108-year-old law limiting who can obtain a license to carry a concealed handgun in public.
Proponents of the measure warned that a ruling from the high court invalidating it could threaten gun restrictions in several states and lead to more firearms on city streets.
Justice Clarence Thomas delivered the majority opinion for the ideologically divided court, writing that New York’s “proper-cause requirement” prevented law-abiding citizens from exercising their Second Amendment right, and its licensing regime is unconstitutional.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)