Pro-Gun, or Not So Much
Feb 10, 2009 | 7255 views | 0 0 comments | 63 63 recommendations | email to a friend | print
To say that new U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has begun paying attention to New York City is an understatement, at the very least.

Since being sworn into office, Senator Gillibrand has made more headlines here than in Washington, where for all her new celebrity she is still the youngest, least-experienced member of the Senate.

But in the city, Gillibrand has fast become one of the hottest topics around town, as everyone from elected officials to community leaders weigh in on her controversial position on gun control.

Yes, Gillibrand does favor gun ownership, promotes hunting, and has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association.

No, the senator insisted in recent visits to Queens and Brooklyn, where she met with anti-gun advocates, this does not mean she believes inner-city gun violence is acceptable.

Gillibrand, a prodigious fundraiser who has made countless appearances in the city, seemed surprisingly at home in the outer boroughs, in neighborhoods like Jamaica and East Flatbush where it is doubtful she had spent much time, if any, before Governor David Paterson appointed her to the Senate last month.

Gillibrand appeared at the East Flatbush high school to meet with the parents of recently slain Brooklyn teen Nyasia Pryear-Yard, who was killed by a stray bullet. The senator listened as Pryear-Yard's parents, teachers, and community leaders described the prevalence of gun violence in urban neighborhoods and its devastating effect on the social fabric of struggling communities.

Their stories inspired Gillibrand to insist she will meet with Mayor Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly, and pledge to write legislation cracking down on illegal gun traffic.

Having seen all the right people and said the right things, Gillibrand's real work in Washington begins now.

She faces the extremely difficult and, in recent memory, unprecedented task of reconciling her pro-gun, fiscally conservative positioning as an upstate congresswoman with her new role as spokesperson for a state that includes one of the world's largest, most complicated cities.

Critics are skeptical Gillibrand can reconcile these two very opposite support bases. Some even criticized her city visits as publicity stunts to garner support, and money, for her upcoming 2010 reelection campaign.

Whether that's true or not is anybody's guess right now, though aides to the senator say her ease in meeting new people and desire to listen to their opinions are genuine, long-standing character traits.

If nothing else, at this early stage in the game, nobody can blame Senator Gillibrand for not working hard. Less than one month since taking office, she has already tackled, head-on, the thorniest issue opponents can throw at her. If Senator Gillibrand can get through this one, the rest will seem like a walk through the park.

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