Sergeant calls for more equipment, gun storage requirements - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, Florida-

NYPD sergeant: Equipping police more effective than weapons ban

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The government is considering reinstating the Federal Assault Weapons Ban that expired in 2004. The government is considering reinstating the Federal Assault Weapons Ban that expired in 2004.
Sgt. Ed Mullins is the director of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, a collective bargaining unit for New York Police Department sergeants during contract negotiations. (Source: Sergeants Benevolent Association) Sgt. Ed Mullins is the director of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, a collective bargaining unit for New York Police Department sergeants during contract negotiations. (Source: Sergeants Benevolent Association)
Selling Bushmaster AR-15 rifles was previously outlawed under the Assault Weapons Ban. Production of the gun resumed after the ban expired. (Source: C. Hunter/Outdoors Trader) Selling Bushmaster AR-15 rifles was previously outlawed under the Assault Weapons Ban. Production of the gun resumed after the ban expired. (Source: C. Hunter/Outdoors Trader)

(RNN) - During President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, members of both political parties showed support for some form of gun control.

The president's remarks alluded to reinstating the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 that expired nine years ago.

A recent Pew Research Center poll shows that 55 percent of Americans think similarly to Obama and support a ban on assault weapons.

"Police chiefs are asking our help to get weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines off our streets, because they are tired of being outgunned," Obama said.

Sgt. Ed Mullins of the New York Police Department is a 30-year veteran of the force and the president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association. He said the assault weapons ban didn't make a significant dent in crime on the nation's busiest streets.

"I didn't see a difference at all. I didn't see fewer guns on the street and I didn't see more types of assault weapons on the street after the ban was lifted," Mullins said. "There's really no way of telling [if it made a difference] because the criminal activity just hasn't changed."

The ban was originally spearheaded by Democrats in an effort to create a 10-year prohibition of certain semi-automatic weapons from 1994 to 2004. Lawmakers hoped it would reduce crime on the street.

In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy that left 20 children and seven adults dead, much of the assault weapons ban debate has focused on semi-automatic rifles.

The ban previously put restrictions semi-automatic rifles that used detachable magazine and had folding stocks, bayonet mounts, flash guards, pistol grips and rifle grenades.

Despite Obama's call to restore the assault weapons ban, his critics remain skeptical that it will make an impact on crime statistics.

Mullins believes one reason the ban didn't deter crime is because the guns included in the ban are typically in the hands of "law abiding people."

"[Assault weapons owners] are not the ones committing the crimes. We don't see the everyday hardworking person being the one who just went out and shot up a school or shot up a bank," he said.

The types of firearms used by most criminals are handguns that wouldn't necessarily be outlawed by reinstating the assault weapons ban.

The ban restricted semi-automatic pistols with detachable magazines that also have a second pistol grip, a threaded barrel, a barrel shroud and a detachable magazine that extends outside of the pistol grip.

Today, gun laws in many states allow individuals to purchase a handgun in less than an hour, making it easier to get firearms than a driver's license.

"To get a driver's license, you've got to take a class, you've got to take a road test and there's all types of documentation that needs to be put into place," Mullins argued. "The real issue comes at a federal level as far as mandating gun dealers to have background checks and require detailed paperwork."

Despite Obama's claim that officers are up against more powerful firearms, Mullins said a better way to protect officers is to provide them an extra weapon.

"I just feel that every patrol car should have some kind of a rifle or shotgun available, only for the potential that things happen. Should there be a rare occasion you need it, it's there," Mullins added.

Most major police unions have not taken a strong legislative stance on the assault weapons ban.

The largest national police union, the Fraternal Order of Police, has not supported congressional action concerning the ban, but rather focused their legislative goals elsewhere.

Aside from urging lawmakers to make it easier for off-duty and retired police officers to carry weapons without permits, former FOP legislative support included a bill called the "Veterans' Heritage Firearms Act of 2011" that would have allowed "individuals, veterans, law enforcement officers and law enforcement agencies to register firearms they possess which were prohibited by the enactment of the Gun Control Act of 1968."

Previous FOP-supported legislation also included a 2001 bill aimed at allowing people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence to own a firearm if the conviction occurred before the law prohibiting them to own guns went into effect.

Both bills died in committee, meaning congressmen decided not to discuss them.

Although Mullins personally doesn't see a need for assault weapons like AK-47s, he noted that he could understand how people may use them in shooting competitions. However, he said owners should be held to strict storage guidelines to prevent cases like the Newtown tragedy.

"[A gun owner] may have a person in their house that might not be mentally stable, but it might make sense for you to have a gun," Mullins said. "But the penalty for not securing that weapon should be extreme, knowing that I'm jeopardizing other people's lives."

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