AP Photo/Jim Mone
The fallout over Michael Bloomberg’s 2015 speech in which he praised stop-and-frisk tactics in New York City and touted taking young minorities and “throwing them up against the wall” to pat them down for weapons continues, and now even the gun control group founded by the anti-gun billionaire is claiming “independence” from their sugar daddy.
WAMU radio in Washington, D.C. has a pretty good takedown of Bloomberg’s speech, and it’s fascinating to see voices on the left criticize the presidential candidate for his views, given the wide support his anti-gun policies have received by Democrats and progressives over the years.
In the audio, Bloomberg incorrectly says the profile of murderers and murder victims “are male minorities 15 to 25.”
“That’s true in New York,” he says in the audio. “That’s true in virtually every city in America.”
But by 2012, analysis of gun violence in Oakland, California, had found that 70% of people involved in gun violence fit a narrow profile. They’re people in their 20s to early 30s, with seven or more arrests, part of some form of clique or gang, and who have themselves been a victim of gun violence or know someone who has.
“That is a very small number of people,” said David Muhammad, the executive director of the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, a non-profit organization that consults on criminal justice systems and gun violence reduction. “And what we have found, is that is very close to the risk profile in nearly every city that has a significant gun violence problem.”
By the time Bloomberg made his comments in 2015, Muhammad said, “that was generally known to people in the field of gun violence reduction.”
Muhammad served as Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Probation in New York City while Bloomberg was mayor. His work in Oakland helped reduce gun violence in the city by 50% between 2012 and 2018.
In other words, Bloomberg and gun control groups are wrong to paint young men of color with such broad brushstrokes, because the number of bad actors driving the violence in any given community is very small. Muhammad says Bloomberg has it backwards when it comes to fighting crime with his sweeping gun control policies.
“People say, ‘Oh my God, you are arresting kids for marijuana who are all minorities,’” Bloomberg says in the audio. “Yes, that’s true. Why? Because we put all the cops in the minority neighborhoods. Yes, that’s true. Why’d we do it? Because that’s where all the crime is. And the way you should get the guns out of the kids’ hands is throw them against the wall and frisk them.”
But by 2015, Muhammad says, that approach was known to exacerbate the underlying causes of gun violence.
“This notion of ‘broken windows’ kind of extreme enforcement of low level offenses has been debunked and has proven to result in the type of mass incarceration that specifically exacerbates racial tensions and inequalities in the system,” Muhammad said.
Muhammad says what has been shown to be most effective is the opposite of what Mayor Bloomberg suggests: non-police interventions with the small number of people who are at the highest risk of being involved in gun violence and deprioritizing low-level crimes to focus police attention on gun violence.
By 2015, studies had found that coupling community partnerships with “focused deterrence,” a policing strategy concentrating resources on the small number of people responsible for much of the violence, can reduce gun violence.
In order to make communities safer, in other words, we need to focus on the actual violent criminals in other words, not the nation’s legal gun owners or even every resident of a bad neighborhood. That’s real common sense, and it bears very little resemblance to the anti-gun agenda of Bloomberg and his gun control groups.
Speaking of his gun control groups, WAMU received a very interesting statement from Everytown for Gun Safety, which Bloomberg founded in 2014, folding his previous gun control group Mayors Against Illegal Guns into the new organization. Despite the billionaire spending hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for the group over the years, Everytown is now trying to distance itself from its patron.
In a statement, Everytown For Gun Safety said it is independent from Mayor Bloomberg. As an organization, it initially focused on gun safety legislation and only recently got involved in programs to address community gun violence.
That’s a laugh. Everytown isn’t independent from Bloomberg. He’s the founder, serves on the board, and is the national chair of the gun control group. It’s his organization. It wouldn’t exist without him. It’s also never been about gun safety. Well, let me take that back. It’s about gun safety, but only in the sense that Bloomberg’s definition of gun safety is “don’t own a gun.”
The truth is that more and more criminal justice experts are coming to the realization that the broad, sweeping gun control laws championed by Michael Bloomberg aren’t the answer to reducing violent crime. Bloomberg’s anti-gun agenda isn’t about making American cities safer. It’s about making Americans unarmed.