“The news, for the past month, like so many others, has been filled with guns,” Arkadi Gerney writes over at newyorker.com. “There was the gun that the Tsarnaev brothers used in Cambridge, where they killed a cop—perhaps in an effort to get his gun. There were guns used elsewhere, too. In Akron, Ohio, four people were murdered, execution-style, in a basement of an apartment complex. The next weekend—” Yada, yada, yada. Take it from a gun blogger: there’s always gun news. To say that a particular time period is “filled with guns” is both true, misleading and revealing. After all . . .
Tens of millions of American gun owners spent the last month doing a whole bunch of non-gun stuff—working, playing, raising kids, paying the bills, going to church, doing the horizontal mambo, etc.—without shooting themselves or anyone else. But Gerney, the ex-head of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns (2006 – 2011), lives in a different world than you and me.
According to his blog post, Arkadi Gerney‘s journey into the heart of disarmament darkness began when he was eight, after his father died of colon cancer. Two years later, Gerney’s mother suffered a cataclysmic accident.
During this time, my mother got to know many doctors, among them an orthopedist named Peter Rizzo. He and my mother started dating in September, 1986. Peter was a father of three college-aged children. His first marriage ended in an annulment. He was a devout Catholic and, like my mother, he enjoyed enjoying—food, drink, and conversation. He was a kind, generous man with a great breadth and depth of friendships. And I hated him.
I hated him for the obvious reasons. I’d lost my father. I’d almost lost my mother. I wanted all my mother’s love and I feared that too much of it might be diverted to this man. I can clearly remember moments at night, trying to fall asleep under a big poster of Don Mattingly, when I wished Peter dead.
A few times that fall, I pleaded with my mother: Promise not to marry him, at least not for a year. But they were in love. By February, they had plans to marry—and then came the gun.
Notice that Gerney foreshadows the tragedy to follow by ascribing it to a physical object. He is, literally, objectifying what happens next.
Peter was the chairman of the medical board of the New York City Fire Department’s pension fund. He and two other doctors were responsible for assessing disability claims. On February 5, 1987, he was at a pension-board meeting when Peter McNamee, a retired firefighter with a deferred claim, came to the meeting with a gun.
Peter McNamee shot Peter in the head with a sawed-off .22-calibre rifle. Peter was rushed to St. Vincent’s Hospital, where he died the next day. There was a funeral at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, with the full F.D.N.Y. treatment. Hundreds of firefighters. Bagpipes. Fire trucks. If you remember all those funerals after 9/11, you know what it looked like.
In the days and weeks that followed his death, my mother told me many times that she loved me and that it wasn’t my fault. My mother was fifty when Peter was murdered. She never remarried. She never even dated again.
Why would Gerney’s mother tell her son that her fiance’s murder wasn’t his fault? Of course it wasn’t his fault. As the father of a [nearly] ten-year-old, having parented three other children through that age, I’m thinking Gerney isn’t being honest.
The “I blamed myself” interpretation is most likely something Gerney picked-up in therapy. Given the intro to the story and the MAIG man’s line of work, I reckon Gerney doesn’t blame himself for the shooting. He blames the gun.
And how. Gerney’s anti-gun jihad is based entirely on the idea that fewer guns equals less crime. Less tragedy. Less heartbreak and sorrow. Which means no guns equals no tragedy. No heartbreak. No sorrow.
The idea that more guns equals less crime is beyond Gerney’s ken. It would force him to consider the possibility that his aspiring step-father—whom his mother worshipped—bore responsibility for his own defense, or lack thereof.
I believe people are genetically wired to see the world in a particular way. Gerney is one of those “black and white” kinda people. Just as his not-step-father was a “pure” victim, anyone who supports the right to keep and bear arms is a bad guy.
When you see the world in binary terms, you don’t mind getting your hands dirty. Why not? Greater good and all that.
In 2009, I led a gun-show investigation of illegal sales at gun shows, which involved so-called private sellers—people who maintain that they only occasionally sell guns. Under current federal law, these unlicensed private sellers can sell guns with no questions asked. Our 2009 investigation found that nineteen of thirty private sellers would sell guns even to buyers who said they “probably couldn’t pass a background check”—which would indicate to the seller that buyer was likely a felon or other prohibited buyer. (Closing this “private sale” loophole was the subject of the bill the Senate rejected in April.)
See what he did there? “Probably couldn’t pass a check.” Entrapment much? Not to mention the fact that Gerney’s infamous “investigation” was illegal (Gerney was an out-of-state buyer).
There’s both zealotry and irony here. By his own admission, Gerney didn’t tell the truth about his background when applying for his position with the Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
I never told anyone I worked with in Mayor Bloomberg’s office about the 1987 shooting of Peter Rizzo. It wasn’t a secret, exactly. People who’ve known me well for a long time know about it (though perhaps not the part about me wishing him dead).
I could have told the man who would become my boss, John Feinblatt, when I interviewed for the job. John is Mayor Bloomberg’s chief policy adviser and the original architect of the gun initiative. But bringing up the shooting when I interviewed didn’t seem right. I thought it would be cheap—exploitive, even.
And, honestly, I was interested in the job because it was an opportunity to play the lead role in helping to build a new national initiative, almost regardless of what that issue was. What happened to Peter Rizzo didn’t play a big role in my choice to do the job (or if it did, I didn’t quite realize it at the time).
That’s some screwed-up logic: the shooting that triggered my desire to promote civilian disarmament wasn’t important when I started working for America’s wealthiest gun grabber, and if it was I didn’t think so at the time. But it is now. I think.
I think it’s safe to say that Gerney’s inner life is a maelstrom of unexamined conflict and repressed emotions. But that’s what you get whenever you scratch the surface of a person who wants to deny someone else their natural, human, civil and Constitutional right to armed self-defense.