If you talk to most criminal justice experts or even law enforcement officials, they’ll tell you that there’s no real way to arrest our way to safety; simply locking people up for every potential (and non-violent) criminal offense doesn’t actually do much to drive down violent crime. Instead, law enforcement agencies need to focus on the most violent and prolific offenders in order to truly achieve long-lasting reductions in the crime rate.
They’re apparently disregarding that advice in New York City, where so far this year police have arrested nearly 500 people for violations of the city’s draconian gun laws. According to NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, the city’s averaging about 16 arrests per day at the moment, which is about 75% higher than this time last year.
“I would argue we’re making far too many gun arrests. We shouldn’t have to,” Shea told the Foundation. “You really must ask yourself, and I think more people need to start asking this, what the hell is going on with the firearms in New York City this year? What has changed?”
Shea’s comments come just hours after a cop with the NYPD’s Gun Violence Suppression Division — the unit tasked with taking guns off the streets — was shot in the lower back during a clash with an armed suspect.
“The whole incident last night really just drives home how much we as a city need to continue to do about the flow of illegal firearms into our city — and the real world consequences, or some would say lack thereof, for the criminals who carry and use these firearms with impunity,” Shea said.
Here’s a novel idea; in addition to trying to figure out why violent criminals are ignoring the city’s gun laws, why not do something about the fact that those same criminals can obtain a gun far more easily than a law-abiding resident in the city? In fact, I’d be willing to hazard a guess that of the 417 gun-related arrests made in New York City this month, the vast majority of those arrested don’t have serious criminal histories, and many of them have no run-ins with the law at all.
I truly believe that one of the reasons why New York City is seeing more gun arrests is the fact that the city makes it nearly impossible for the average resident to legally keep a gun in the home, and the process of obtaining an actual carry license is so draconian that most residents don’t even bother to apply.
The city’s gun laws, in other words, are helping to foster a culture of illegal gun ownership by making legal gun ownership such a burdensome, expensive, and time-consuming process. If New York City is really serious about getting “illegal guns” off the streets, they should start by actually recognizing the right (as opposed to the privilege) of New Yorkers to own and carry a gun in self-defense. As it stands, the city’s refusal to acknowledge that the Second Amendment applies to all five boroughs is only making matters worse, and it’s creating non-violent, possessory crimes out of the right to keep and bear arms.