Political Pressure and Gun Control

Written by Ann Shibler on May 15 2009.

Kirsten GillibrandWhen Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed by New York Governor Dave Paterson to fill Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat, reports surfaced that the Kennedy family was outraged, due to Gillibrand’s supposed anti-stimulus bill stand, pro-gun rhetoric, and dim view of same sex marriage. The ruling elitist family felt they were being betrayed. That was in January.

My how things change.

This is mid-May, and Gillibrand, who was the National Rifle Association’s top New York state pick as a firm supporter of the Second Amendment, has moved so quickly in the other direction, that she has even surpassed anti-gun Congresswoman Caroline McCarthy (D-NY). She beat McCarthy to the punch in introducing legislation in the Senate to force dealers at gun shows to perform background checks before McCarthy got it into the House.

McCarthy, a one-issue representative — anti-guns, pro-gun control — at one time attacked Gillibrand’s pro-Second Amendment stance. But again, things have changed. "She actually has been signing things we have been sending over to her," McCarthy said. "And I am very happy about it. I just want to make sure she stays there."

Don’t think for a moment that any of these people “represent” the citizenry. (A response letter today from my senator says he votes according to his private preference, proving it.)

So, McCarthy says she will keep up the pressure on Gillibrand. But what that pressure specifically entails, common folks like myself probably have no idea. One supposes that peer pressure is what passes for debate in Congress these days. Intense it must be, to have someone change a decade of political philosophy in just three months. Or was it all just rhetoric to begin with?

Was Gillibrand chosen because of her willingness to play the game? The Village Voice had some interesting commentary on Gillibrand’s political history and ties, from her father, to her former employer, who just happened to give $25,000 to Paterson’s campaign chest, as did the employer’s son, at a critical time.

The real litmus test that will measure Gillibrand’s defense of the Bill of Right’s 2nd Amendment is about to be taken, as McCarthy will be introducing an assault weapons ban bill in the House, and wants Gillibrand to do the same in the Senate, sign on as a co-sponsor, or at the very least be counted on to vote according to the politics and pressure of the day.

As to date, Gillibrand refuses to comment on legislation not yet in the hopper.

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