Receiver raises “giant” questions about gun control

The sound of Plaxico Burress’ gunshot within a Manhattan nightclub has reverberated all the way to Washington.

Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress

Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress

Early Saturday morning, a day before Burress’ New York Giants would play the Washington Redskins, the injured wide receiver shot himself in the leg when the unregistered 40-caliber Glock he had tucked in his waistband accidentally went off in the VIP area of the Latin Quarter.

By the time the Giants took the field Sunday, news of the incident had spread far beyond the realm of pro football.

“I think it would be an outrage if we didn’t prosecute to the fullest extent of the law,” New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg said at a press conference last Monday. “Particularly people who live in the public domain … If we didn’t prosecute to the fullest extent, then I don’t know who on earth you would.”

Since being elected in 2001, Bloomberg has been one of America’s most visible gun control proponents. He is the founder and co-chairman of Mayors against Illegal Guns, a coalition of 210 prominent government leaders.

“Our children are getting killed with guns in the street. Our police are getting killed…That’s why the state legislature passed the sentence if you get caught with an illegal gun.”

Currently in New York City, possession of an unregistered weapon yields an automatic three and a half years in prison.

Bloomberg’s rock solid stance on gun control has brought the public eye the question of President-elect Barack Obama’s waffling stance on the issue.

On February 1 during a campaign stop to Idaho, Obama had this to say in regard to gun rights: “There are people who say I don’t believe in the Second Amendment. We got a lot of hunters in the state of Illinois and I have no intention of taking away folks’ guns.”

This stance was quite different than the one he took a little over two months later. During a Democratic primary debate in Philadelphia on April 16, Obama voted yes in support of Illinois state legislature to ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns and assault weapons. (Ontheissues.org)

When confronted with his conflicting positions on the issue in an April interview with ABC the President-elect tried to compromise his opposing stances.

“Because I think we have two conflicting traditions in this country. I think it’s important for us to recognize that we’ve got a tradition of handgun ownership and gun ownership generally. And a lot of law-abiding citizens use it for hunting, for sportsmanship, and for protecting their families. We also have a violence on the streets that is the result of illegal handgun usage. And so I think there is nothing wrong with a community saying we are going to take those illegal handguns off the streets. . . We can have reasonable, thoughtful gun control measure that I think respect the Second Amendment and people’s traditions.”

In addition to bringing attention in Washington to the issue of gun control, Burress’ incident has also brought up the issue on the campus of Marist College.

“I think the shooting has definitely raised my awareness of gun rights,” sophomore Jason Nacca said. “Plaxico had a gun in a nightclub, and many Marist students, including myself, frequent local clubs. The idea that there could be guns present is frightening. This weekend’s incident may be an isolated incident, but it may also be a sign that security in clubs needs to be increased. I’m still going to go out and live my life, but I will certainly do so with increased caution.”

-Sam Benjamin

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