For Guns, My Neighborhood is a “Sensitive Area”

The Supreme Court, while also having ruled that abortion is up to the states, nonetheless ruled that regulations for carrying firearms are not up the states.  Someone other than a complete cynic might had expected a little more consistency one way or the other, though one might say the new inconsistency is a mirror image of the old one.   

The court seems not to care about the difference between a firearm (or bomb or chemical, biological or nuclear weapon) on one hand, and a knife, sword, club or baseball bat on the other.  If someone uses a knife, sword, club or baseball bat to defend themselves – or just swings them around to feel macho and intimidating – they are not likely to kill or injure someone they did not intend.  Whereas volley of bullets from a firearm – shot at someone in self-defense, just popped off for the fun of it, or set off by accident — can travel a long distance and strike unintended targets.  The likelihood of firearms killing or injuring people those carrying it did not intend, but didn’t really care to avoid, depends on the density of people at a given time and location.

Immediately there has been a reaction that the upper middle class suburbs must be protected.  Those who live in private, gated communities, ride in private SUVs to private parking lots at private shopping centers or office parks, and work out at private health and recreation facilities, should be able to do so without fear that some depressed, angry hot head who is locked and loaded (and perhaps also loaded), might get into a dispute and start shooting.

Hochul…said she also wants to “create a system where the default position is for a private business that a concealed carry is not allowed unless they affirmatively offer the right to someone to come in with a concealed carry.”

Or be harassed in other ways.  The private property owners, in suburban and Sunbelt America, have a right to set rules.  The public in urban America does not.

I have a different suggestion.


So-called sensitive places – and times — should be objectively based on the density of bystanders likely to be present.  

As it happens, the Census of Population has data on population — and acres — by zip code.  That data provides the density of residents.  Zip Business Patterns data (part of the County Business Patterns series) has an estimate of the number of private sector workers in each zip code, which could also be divided by Census of Population acres data to get the density of employees.

Five-year American Community Survey data has information on the share of the households in each zip code that have private vehicles available, and the share of the workers in each zip code that use a mode other than driving alone in their own motor vehicles to travel to work.  These factors could be used as proxies for the likelihood that residents of a given zip code might be walking on a public sidewalk, spending time in public park, or using public transit – and thus available to absorb stray bullets.

To this could be added an element of time.  Perhaps those traveling around New York City after 1 am and before 5 am might have reason to carry a firearm.   And perhaps it might be reasonable to limit firearms at Saratoga Raceway during the most highly attended races of the year.

And there you have it – an objective measure of “sensitive” places where there should be stricter requirements as to who should be walking around with loaded semi-automatic rifles with the safety off, pointing them this way and that so that everyone else knows who needs to be respected.  And yet one that is the opposite if what our politicians, including those who use their placards to live the suburban life in the city, are likely to give us.

Where does it make sense for the carrying of firearms to be regulated?  The places where this is objectively more likely to happen?

They say she was an innocent bystander caught in a hail of bullets in the Bronx.  “I know they say when you live by the gun, you die by the gun, but the girl lived by laughs, she lived by love,” Ntim told CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas.

A 61-year-old woman was killed by a gunshot wound to the back in the Bronx on Monday night.  She was walking near East 188th Street and Creston Avenue when a dispute between two groups of men broke out, police said. Multiple guns were pulled out and someone opened fire, striking the woman.  The woman was not involved in the dispute and was the victim of a stray bullet. Police described her as a “complete innocent bystander.”

It seems to me that according to the Supreme Court, if two groups of men get into a dispute and shooting breaks out, they are all innocent by reason of self-defense.  Except for the person who fired first – if and only if that could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.  Though evidently some Hatfields and McCoys did go to prison.  Not sure if that would be true today.

A woman wounded in a shootout near a Bronx baseball game that killed a gunman on a moped was an innocent bystander, police said Monday.  At least 20 shots were fired in the gun battle that erupted about 7:40 p.m. Sunday as a baseball game was being played at Bill Rainey Park at Rogers Place and Dawson St., cops said.

An 11-year-old girl became the latest victim of a stray bullet on Monday after she was hit in the stomach by a gunman riding on the back of a scooter through the Bronx. The girl, identified as Kyhara Tay, was just an innocent bystander half a block away when two men drove past on a moped and opened fire at around 5 p.m.  Their target was another man they were chasing near Westchester Avenue and Fox Street in the Bronx’s Foxhurst neighborhood, Police said.

A woman who was shot and killed when gunfire erupted on a Brooklyn street Tuesday night was an innocent bystander, law enforcement sources said.  Police said it happened just after 8:30 p.m. as the 30-year-old victim was standing at the corner of Georgia and Belmont avenues, in the East New York section.  A group of men nearby got into a dispute and at least one person opened fire, an NYPD spokesperson said.

“As alleged in the complaint, Bynum showed no regard for human life when he opened fire in the middle of the day on a group of people standing on Dean Street in Brooklyn, severely wounding a pregnant bystander,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.  “The Eastern District will continue working tirelessly with our local and federal partners to hold violent drug traffickers responsible for their activities that put the entire community in danger.”

Or the places where the people at risk subjectively count for something?  Perhaps based on percent with a college degree in Blue States and median household income in Red States.

There is a certain symmetry between this Supreme Court decision and the views of people who now call themselves “progressive.”  The view is that public spaces – sidewalks, public parks, subway vehicles and stations – are not shared spaces that belong to all of us, where we all should co-exist under a set of common rules of mutual respect that everyone has to follow.  They are the very places where people should be able to do as they please, to satisfy their ego, let loose their Id, or just make some other people feel their pain.

Like aggressive panhandlers, those peddling without permits, those sleeping and excreting in public, drivers in over-powered vehicles going out of control and mounting the curb, and the addicted and the mentally ill seeking to vent and at and terrify someone.  The “conservative” Supreme Court seems to have added stray bullets to the “progressive” list of things anyone who dares to spend time in public space outside an SUV should have to put up with.  Not long ago, people reacted with outrage at the arrest of an unlicensed vendor in the subway system after several warnings.

My view was that if we want vendors in the subway, using public space for their business, then the MTA should issue permits.  Not that we should have a free-for-all.  One outraged post was “it’s not just about the churro ladies.”  No, it isn’t, the Supreme Court says in concurrence.  It’s also about semi-automatic rifles.  In Blue States, where we have unreasonable restrictions on what can be done in private space, where you are not allowed to even divide your half-empty (after the kids are gone) suburban house into a two-family home, somehow in “public” space anything goes.

This is the very public policy that is responsible for the fact that just about every public space added south of the Mason-Dixon line since 1970 is in fact a private space, where the freedom from mutual respect and responsibility people enjoy in public spaces does not apply.

According to the Foundation for Community Association Research, approximately 25-27 Percent of the U.S. population live in private communities governed by condominium, cooperative and housing associations.

No one has a constitutional right to walk around with a Streetsweeper there.

One can live one’s entire life in much of the country and never have their feet touch public space.  Just their tires.  When affluent residents of these areas want to enjoy public spaces without fear for their safety, the jet over to Europe.  (Most are smart enough not to go to Latin America, the one place with more violence than the USA). They would never do that here, aside from football games where people are screened with metal detectors.

So, in those places, sure, let people carry all kinds guns into the workplaces they were fired from, the places of business where they didn’t think they were treated right, the high school where they felt bullied, the health club that won’t let them cancel their membership, out in rural and exurban America.  The places where the New York State residents who sued to overturn New York’s concealed carry law are from.  

Heck, let NYC gangbangers head for such places and have their disputes there, as long was their weapons are unloaded and have the safety on until they are out of the densely populated zip codes people live in to use shared public spaces.  And if a bullet goes astray, we can give them tickets just like reckless drivers who kill people.  Because, freedom (from responsibility).

Just not in the places where someone shooting off a firearm is objectively more likely to hit a bystander. If nothing else, there should be a hell of a marksmanship test for anyone permitted to carry a concealed weapon there. They should have to get it out and get off 4-5 shots in a couple of seconds, and have every one hit a human sized dummy 15 feet away. While being blasted in the chest by a paint gun. And have none of the bullets hit the human-sized dummies a few feet to either side or behind, even after passing through the actual target. I wonder how many members of the NYPD could pass that test?

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