With a deadline fast approaching for New York City’s policing reform measures to be finalized, the families of three New Yorkers murdered in recent years held a press conference on Monday blasting the current policies that they say are allowing criminals to escape justice with little to no consequence.
The New York Post portrays the comments as a call for stricter gun laws, but the focus by the families appears to be on increased penalties for criminal acts committed with a firearm, as opposed to demands for new gun control laws in general.
Speaking at a Lower Manhattan press conference Monday, the three parents chided recent state and city crime reforms — and pending police reforms being weighed by the City Council — saying they add to the Big Apple’s recent spike in violence.
“The pain is still within,” said Randolph Holder, Sr., whose cop son was shot and killed by a notorious gang member in Harlem in 2015.
“I’m calling on all judges to be tougher on sentencing for crimes of guns so that if you do the crime you’ve got to pay the time,” Holder said. “My son was a very good man.”
“I also want to call on the mayor, governor to institute tougher laws for these perps, the criminals,” he added.
Holder was joined at the press conference by the parents of Brandon Hendricks and Shamoya McKenzie. Hendricks was shot and killed last year in the Bronx, while McKenzie was shot and killed in 2017 while she was riding in a car with her mother in Westchester County.
“Reform is not working for the purpose they put in place,” Nadine McKenzie, the teenager’s mom said Monday. “I’m hoping another family doesn’t feel what I’m feeling. It’s really affecting us. Crime is so high after bail reform. They need to change it because it’s not doing what they wanted.”
Eve Hendricks said her son was shot June 28, just two days after graduating from high school and nine days shy of his 18th birthday after attending a BBQ with friends.
“This is not right and it’s not fair, so I’m calling on judges, please, you have to stop releasing criminals that are charged with guns, putting them on the street because they end up doing the same thing they did to go in,” she said.
So, it’s not the gun control laws that the families are complaining about, but the bail reforms and other policies that have been put in place at the state and local level that are quickly returning criminals to the streets.
I’m all in favor of policies that get tough on violent criminals, but unfortunately New York’s laws seem designed to crack down on legal gun ownership first, with criminals being a secondary concern (at best) for many lawmakers. Democrats in control of the state legislature in Albany have been pushing a number of gun control bills, including making it a crime to sell an unfinished receiver and to possess a home-built firearm that doesn’t contain a serial number.
Instead of putting more gun control laws on the books, lawmakers should listen to those who are calling for better enforcement of the laws on the books. They shouldn’t stop there, however. They should also reform the existing gun licensing laws in the state to remove the subjective authority of law enforcement to approve and deny carry licenses based on the applicant’s “justifiable need” to carry for self-defense. Not only does that policy prevent the average New Yorker from obtaining a carry license in many counties, it also fuels corruption, as we’ve seen in a case out of San Diego in recent days involving a sheriff’s captain accused of abusing the similar “may-issue” policies for personal gain.
The New York Police Department licensing bureau has had its own scandals involving bribes for carry licenses over the past few years, but the city and state have done nothing to rein in the abuses that are fostered by the subjective-issue system. Thankfully, a court case challenging the state’s licensing regime could soon be heard by the Supreme Court, and if SCOTUS agrees to hear the case, the state’s subjective-issue licensing laws could be struck down and some semblance of Second Amendment protections restored to law-abiding citizens. If the state legislature won’t willingly put its focus on criminals instead of legal gun owners, let’s hope that the Supreme Court will do it for them.
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