Steven A. Levine
Coordinator for Educational Programs
I have watched with great sadness and anger the recent epidemic of gun violence in the United States, most notably in Arizona, Colorado, Wisconsin, and today at the Empire State Building. While the motives for these despicable acts of violence have varied, one common denominator has been the prevalence of semi-automatic weapons.
Sadly, this is not a new issue. Twenty-three years ago, Mayor Ed Koch gave a speech calling for federal and city semi-automatic assault weapons bans after five children were murdered in a California schoolyard by a killer with an AK-47. He told his audience that “It’s true that ‘Guns don’t kill people, people do.’ But it’s also true that killers and armed criminals can create large numbers of victims by using a semi-automatic assault rifle.” (Click here to read the speech.) The Archives’ City Council Collection also has a resolution in 1991 calling on the State Legislature “to prohibit the unlicensed possession of semiautomatic assault weapons,” showing that this remained an important issue. (Click here)
The Archives has a wealth of material about issues of gun control and gun violence, including the Bernhard Goetz shootings of 1984. If you would like to learn more about these issues or use documents in your classroom, please feel free to contact me.