By Larry Keane
New York City’s accidental Mayor Bill de Blasio has made some deliberately bad decisions in his attempts to curb the Big Apple’s recent surge in criminal violence. New York City is seeing the same destruction as cities like Seattle, Portland, Oregon, Washington, D.C. and Chicago. Mayor de Blasio’s “vague plan” to stop the violence though includes proposals that simply don’t work and there’s plenty of evidence that says so.
New York City criminal shootings skyrocketed while riots and looting left law enforcement exasperated. A recent weekend in July saw 64 New Yorkers shot including the murder of a young father walking with his 6-year old daughter in broad daylight. That same week in mid-July marked a 253 percent increase in shootings over the same week in 2019. But New York City police made just 21 arrests in cases involving crimes with a firearm, a nearly 75 percent drop from the same week last year.
It was as predictable as it is disappointing. Mayor de Blasio went along with antipolice activists and in June pushed through city budget cuts including $1.5 billion less to the New York City police department. The cuts cost New Yorkers police academy classes, overtime for police at a time when they’re stretched thin, scrapping a planned new police precinct in Queens, N.Y. and eliminating 1,163 police officer positions.
In announcing the budget cuts, Mayor de Blasio missed the seriousness of the situation.
“I am excited to say that we have a plan that can achieve real reform, that can achieve real redistribution, and at the same time ensure that we keep our city safe, and we make sure that our officers are on patrol where we need them around this city,” he said.
The effects of these “real reforms” have been felt quickly and permanently for the families of the victims of crime.
Now after immediate increases in criminal misuse of firearms and more fatalities in the city, Mayor de Blasio announced his “End Gun Violence Plan” that reinstated many of the cuts he previously made, only with different wording. Announcing the new police force focuses on safety in the city, Mayor de Blasio was joined by New York City Police Department Commissioner Dermot Shea but gave few specifics. The two “provided no details on the plan, or could even say, when pressed by The [New York] Post, how many officers will be redeployed to fight the rise in shootings,” the Post reported.
Buy-back Plan Unserious
If there were any giveaway that the mayor’s firearm crime plans are unserious, it is evidenced by his gun “buy-back” program, including events in the very places where criminal gun crime is the highest. Gun buy-backs are designed to offer citizens money rewards to turn over firearms, no questions asked. These efforts are sometimes termed “compensated confiscation” efforts as the city authorities never sold the firearms in the first place. In addition, those turning in their firearms are likely the least likely to commit violent crimes with those firearms. Gun buy-backs don’t work and the evidence is overwhelming.
One study completed by SUNY New Buffalo State university analyzed the results of five separate buy-back programs between 2007-2012. Researcher Scott W. Phillips summed up the evidence, stating “Does it [gun buy-backs] work? No…Should they keep doing it? I wouldn’t bother wasting their time.”
Mayor de Blasio probably didn’t read that study before including the buy-backs in his proposal.
That’s not all. A National Institute of Justice memo released during the Obama Administration said the same thing, including that 82 percent of law enforcement professionals call buy-backs ineffective at reducing violent crime. Mayor de Blasio likely didn’t read that study either. One could easily conclude he isn’t serious about reducing gun crimes.
Members of the firearm industry, however, are serious about reducing the criminal misuse of firearms through NSSF’s Real Solutions. Safer Communities® campaign. Project ChildSafe® has distributed more than 38 million firearm safety kits, including free gun locks, through partnerships with 15,000 law enforcement agencies to reduce accidental and unintentional firearm injuries. Operation Secure Store® is a partnership effort with ATF to educate and assist firearm retailers to voluntarily improve security through affordable options to reduce theft and burglaries. Don’t Lie for the Other Guy™ helps ATF to educate retailers on the warning signs of a possible illegal straw purchase, or when someone attempts to buy a gun for someone who doesn’t want their name associated with that sale. That program reminds the public of a possible $250,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison for committing this serious crime. NSSF’s FixNICS® campaign changed the law in 16 states and in Congress to improve submissions of disqualifying adjudicated mental health records. Since 2013, this resulted in a 241 percent increase of disqualifying records submitted to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) helping to keep guns out of the hands of the dangerously mentally ill.
These efforts have all paid off as the instances of unintentional firearm fatalities reached the lowest levels on record in over one hundred years and violent crime continues to trend lower, all while firearm ownership is at historic highs. These are real solutions, unlike Mayor de Blasio’s political theater.
Larry Keane is Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association.