New York's SAFE Act Useless As Shootings Spike Across State

At least 22 people have been shot in New York City this weekend, including a man who was gunned down at point blank range as he was washing his car in Brooklyn on Saturday afternoon, and the rapid rise in violent crime isn’t limited only to the state’s biggest city. In Syracuse, 9 people were shot on Saturday evening at what’s being described as a “celebration” in the city.

The party in a parking lot behind WCNY Studios near the intersection of Wyoming Street and Marcellus was attended by hundreds according to Syracuse Police Chief Kenton Buckner.

All nine victims were sent to the hospital with various injuries although the most seriously hurt was also the youngest: a 17-year-old male.

Syracuse Police report, when officers arrived, that people were running away and yelling.

Buckner said the incident was first called in as a stolen car complaint, and when officers arrived people said there was a person shooting. Buckner said his officers did not hear gunfire while they were at the scene.

In the state capitol of Albany, Chief Eric Hawkins and Mayor Kathy Sheehan held a press conference on Friday to implore the public to cooperate with law enforcement as they try to cope with a staggering increase in violent crime.

According to Hawkins, they have seen three times as many shots-fired incidents in 2020 than they did at this point in 2019.

Hawkins said the pandemic lead to a decrease in community policing and restricted the department’s ability to address issues that arose. Now with the area opening back up, Hawkins is seeking help from the community to stifle the violence.

“We are working together in a united front to address this issue,” Hawkins said. “We are arresting people, we are taking guns off the street, but yet this problem is persisting. We need more. We need more than just innovatice police strategies, we need more than just more cops. We need our community to help.”

Other city leaders at the Friday press conference said the community knows who the shooters are, and pleaded with people not to wait until they are personally impacted by gun violence.

Keep in mind that New York has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country, thanks in large part to the SAFE Act signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2013. So-called assault weapons are banned, ammunition magazines with more than seven rounds of ammunition are illegal, and possession of a firearm without a license is a felony crime. Cuomo has claimed that the law “stops criminals and the dangerously mentally ill from buying a gun,” but clearly criminals are paying as much attention to the state’s gun control laws as they are the laws on the books prohibiting aggravated assault and homicide.

In New York City, officials are still doubling down on the idea that more gun control and fewer police officers on the streets will lead to less shootings.

“We are going to put more and more resources into the Cure Violence movement and the Crisis Management System, which has proven to be extraordinarily effective in stopping gun violence before it happens and mediating conflicts,” Mayor Bill de Blasio has said.

The mayor has increased the Cure Violence budget by $10 million for more staff and sites, especially those with high gun violence in areas including Jamaica, Canarsie, and Crown Heights.

“During the month of May, we are seeing an increase of 25 percent in homicides in the last few days, so it is concerning – we are deploying our Cure Violence particularly in retaliation shootings,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

While the City Council is proposing $1 billion in cuts to the police department, Adams is backing that decision.

“If we put money on the front end, we won’t be dealing with the crisis on the back end, that is how we have been policing in the city,” he said.

According to the city’s website, the Cure Violence program:

“employs ‘violence interrupters’ and outreach workers from the community who have themselves experienced violence and also have strong relationships with young adults, community leaders, and service providers. Violence interrupters stop conflicts before they happen, and outreach workers re-direct the highest-risk youth away from life on the streets. Outreach workers implement a detailed risk reduction plan that links youth with needed services. These connections result in the cooling of violence hot spots, in addition to positive outcomes for those who participate in the intervention.”

I don’t have a problem with Cure Violence’s strategy in theory, as long as it’s working. Unfortunately, at the moment, the “violence interruptors” don’t seem to be actually interrupting the violence at all.

During the month of May, overall crime decreased compared to the same period last year.

But the NYPD says murders in the city increase by 79%.

Shootings went up 64%, while burglaries rose 34%.

While anti-gun politicians like Bill de Blasio and Andrew Cuomo wring their hands and twiddle their thumbs, New York’s violent criminals are having a field day, and law-abiding New Yorkers should be asking themselves this simple question: who exactly is safer thanks to the SAFE Act and the state’s gun control regime?