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New York police chief criticizes Obama’s silence on gun violence

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New York‘s police chief has hit out at President Barack Obama over his refusal to tackle gun violence, accusing him of uttering “barely a peep” on the issue.

NYPD commissioner Raymond Kelly is quoted in the New York Daily News as noting that Chicago is “maybe the city most affected” by gun violence, adding: “The president’s hometown. But barely a peep out of him.”

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His comments echo that of mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has repeatedly called on the White House to act over America’s lax gun controls, but to no avail.

Bloomberg is one of the highest profile anti-gun politicians in the US, regularly pumping his own money into campaigns to counter the influence of the pro-gun National Rifle Association.

In the aftermath of the Colorado theatre massacre earlier this year – a mass shooting that resulted in the deaths of 12 moviegoers – he issued a stark challenge to Obama and his then-rival for the White House, Mitt Romney.

“You know, soothing words are nice, but maybe it’s time that the two people who want to be president of the United States stand up and tell us what they are going to do about it,” he said at the time.

New York has seen a decline in gun-related homicides in recent years, but as Bloomberg noted after a recent fatal shooting outside the Empire State Building, the city is “not immune to the problem of gun violence”.

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The latest comments by Kelly follow the wounding of a five-year-old girl in the Bronx on Sunday.

A stray bullet pierced the lung of Hailey Dominguez as she was returning home from a baby shower with her mother and brother in the early hours. The Daily News said Monday that she remained in a “critical but stable” condition.

Reacting to the latest shooting, Kelly is quoted as saying: “We can never accept the shooting of a child as a part of city life. We can never accept the notion that somehow children are going to be a part of the casualty count, whether somebody else is targeted or not.”

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He said: “Children are not supposed to be collateral damage”.

But the pleas of both Kelly and Bloomberg have done little to shift policy in Washington, where the pro-gun lobby exert a great deal of influence.

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Prior to coming into office, Obama had been a vocal supporter of a ban on semi-automatic weapons and a tightening up of gun controls in general.

But since assuming office, he has largely remained silent on greater restrictions on ownership. And in 2009 he signed laws allowing people to carry concealed weapons in the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and other national parks and have guns in checked bags on Amtrak trains.

The anti-gun lobbying group Brady Campaign gave the president an “F” on gun-control policy during his first term.

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© Guardian News and Media 2012


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