The Slatest

Commissioner of NYPD Describes NRA “Stranglehold” on Congress as “Insanity”

Bill Bratton press conference
New York Police Department commissioner Bill Bratton discusses the death of NYPD officer Randolph Holder, who was killed by an armed suspect, at an Oct. 21, 2015 press conference.

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

New York City police commissioner Bill Bratton condemned Congress and the NRA for putting a so-called “stranglehold” on firearm regulation at a Tuesday press conference announcing six arrests for gun trafficking, a local CBS outlet reports. Bratton’s remarks made reference to the death of NYPD officer Randolph Holder, who was shot and killed by an ex-convict on Oct. 20:

“Personally, I have no faith in the Congress of the United States on this issue at all. They’ve been beholden to the NRA for most of my career in policing. I don’t see any movement away from that stranglehold that the NRA has … Because every time we lose a life, in this case my mind is very much on the officer we just lost, it still amazes me, the insanity of the United States Congress, that they just don’t get it. I don’t know why they don’t get it, other than that they are basically constantly down there with their hands out to the NRA looking for more money, and it’s just insanity.”

Bratton also alluded to the flow of guns into New York from Southern states that have more lax laws regarding firearm purchases; Slate’s Leon Neyfakh wrote about that subject last week, outlining the process by which a Brooklyn suspect named Michael Bassier is said to have brought weapons from Georgia to the Northeast. From Neyfakh’s piece:

  • Bassier allegedly enlisted a handful of “straw purchasers” in the Atlanta, Georgia area, including both men and women, to buy weapons at gun stores, pawn stores, street dealers, and from web-based vendors.
  • The straw purchasers allegedly bought the guns for $150 to $300 dollars, and were paid just $50 per gun for their troubles.
  • Bassier allegedly transported the guns to New York via Chinatown bus.
  • Bassier then allegedly flipped the guns in a Walgreens parking lot for between $800 and $1,200 per gun. Assault weapons were pricier, fetching approximately $2,000 to $2,500 per unit.

While the weapons lobby’s influence has been strong enough to prevent gun-control bills from passing even in the wake of the U.S.’s many recent high-profile mass shootings, some activists argue that a “sea change” on the issue may be taking place, citing prominent Democratic politicians’ increasing willingness to back gun-control proposals and publicly criticize the NRA. (For the record, Bratton was at least at one point a registered Democrat but has served under both Republican and Democratic administrations and in 2000 considered running for mayor of New York as a Republican.)