The following op-ed by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg was originally published in the New York Daily News on April 9, 2012.
Call it an Easter miracle.
Early Sunday morning, four New York City police officers in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, were shot while rescuing a woman and her 4-month-old baby from a hostage situation. When I visited them in the hospital Sunday, all were in stable condition, and all are expected to survive.
Only one day earlier, police officers patrolling in Red Hook, Brooklyn, attempted to stop and question two men, who fled and then fired upon the officers. Fortunately, the officers were not hit. They returned fire, and the wounded gunman was apprehended in Far Rockaway, Queens.
This was a weekend for giving thanks to God. But we cannot rely on prayer to protect our police officers and keep our city safe.
The work of Ray Kelly and the NYPD has made New York City the safest big city in the country. Crime is down 35% over the past decade, and murders are at historic lows. But as our officers put their lives on the line to take guns off the street, they are getting no support from Washington - with terrible consequences.
Over the past four months, we have had eight police officers shot in the line of duty. One of them, Peter Figoski, did not survive.
Every one of the criminals who has shot at our police officers possessed his gun illegally. Every one. And make no mistake: It will happen again — and again — until those in Washington stop cowering before the gun lobby.
Across the country, more than 80% of gun owners support simple fixes to the background check system that would help stop the flow of guns to criminals. The ideologues who run the gun lobby don’t want us to know that, but it’s true.
Americans of both parties support common-sense steps that would save lives and protect our police. But the gun lobby doesn’t, and it has scared Washington silent.
That silence echoes across every big city and small town. We hear it every day, in the sounds of bullets flying, the sobs of children crying, and the gasps of innocent people dying. We hear it in the wail of bagpipes, and the words of mourners. We hear it in the voids that are left behind in our communities, and in our hearts.
Washington’s silence is a shameful betrayal of public trust. Federal law says that criminals cannot buy or possess guns — but they do, every day. And Washington just stands by as thousands of innocent Americans — and police officers — meet their death.
Peter Figoski and his four daughters deserved better from our country. But we can stop the next murder of a police officer — and keep our streets safe — if more people join our fight in Washington.
Go to fixgunchecks.org and tell those in Washington to act now. And until they do, keep the members of the NYPD in your thoughts and prayers.