Kelly, Bloomy in D.C. to push for tougher gun laws

May 5, 2010 2:21:21 PM PDT
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly headed to Capitol Hill Wednesday to push for tougher gun laws in the wake of the failed Times Square bombing attempt.Kelly, Bloomberg and other local lawmakers testified before the Senate Homeland Security committee in Washington, D.C., in an effort to close loopholes that could help terrorists get guns.

Bloomberg said that suspects on the terrorism watch list were able to buy guns and explosives from licensed U.S. dealers more than 1,100 times in the past six years. It's a loophole he wants closed, now.

"Our Founding Fathers did not write the Second Amendment to empower people who wanted to terrorize a free state," Bloomberg said. "They wrote it to protect people who could defend the security of a free state. Today, the security of our free state is being tested by terrorists."

Kelly, Bloomberg, New York Representative Peter King and New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg spoke before the panel.

"In the eyes of terrorists, New York is America," Kelly said. "And they want to come back to kill us."

Those strong words came hours after the arrest of suspected Times Square car bomber Faisal Shahzad.

Kelly said Shahzad purchased a gun in Connecticut in March, and that Shahzad took the gun with him when he drove to the airport to board a flight to Dubai.

Bloomberg said the terror gap allows people on the FBI's terror watch list to legally purchase guns and explosives. The request to close it, introduced under both the Bush and Obama administrations, has been previously rejected by Congress for fear of the gun lobby.

Lautenberg and King have both introduced legislation to block gun and explosives purchases.

"There will be blood on our hands," King said. "We would be responsible for the deaths of all those people. That's why this legislation is common sense."

Bloomberg went on to say that since 1990, there have been more than 20 terror plots against the city. Because of that, he plans to ask for more Homeland Security funds to protect New York from future attacks. A $24 million grant was recently awarded to finance the project, but officials say that's not enough. The mayor says making and keeping New York safe is a work in progress.

So why is New York the primary target for terrorists, and do we deserve the most federal funding? Click here to tell Eyewitness News your thoughts.

"Do I think we have it right?" Bloomberg asked? "We can always do better, and we will continue to work on that. As you know, we've been installing cameras downtown for the Lower Manhattan security initiative. We are trying to do it in Midtown as well."

More Midtown cameras are supposedly on the way. A surveillance camera picked up the only image released of a possible car bomb suspect, but it turned out to be the wrong guy.

"We're sitting ducks," one New Yorker said. "And you never know when it's going to happen."

As law enforcement works to beef up the security in Times Square, some Midtown companies are not taking any chances. Many are hiring their own private security to watch the area.

Kelly says that while the suspect is in custody, everyone should remain alert.

"We can breathe easier," Kelly said. "But we always have to remain vigilant."