With violent crime on the rise in many cities and Republicans beginning to make political hay out of the increase, the Biden administration is desperate to look like they’re doing something to get a handle on the crime spike. Some NYPD officers are convinced, however, that a new focus on “illegal guns” isn’t going to be of much use, particularly in the Big Apple.
The New York Post spoke to several officers about the new partnership between the ATF and NYPD to pursue gun traffickers, and none of them sounded enthusiastic about the plan.
“If they never made another gun, shootings would not go down for years,” a veteran Manhattan NYPD detective said. “There are guns that have been lying in closets and under beds for years and they are being passed around.”
One NYPD supervisor assigned to Brooklyn estimated that there are more than 100,000 guns floating around New York’s streets today.
“Working with our local partners to tackle violent crime is one of the Justice Department’s most important responsibilities,” said US Attorney General Merrick Garland. “Our firearms trafficking strike forces will investigate and disrupt the networks that channel crime guns into our communities with tragic consequences.”
But sources told The Post that new guns coming into the city isn’t the problem.
According to ATF statistics from 2019 — the last year for which figures were available — the average time between a gun’s initial purchase and its confiscation in a crime in New York State was 11.75 years, with most of those seizures in New York City.
That figure eclipsed the national average of 8.29 years by more than three years, sources said, showing that the guns tied to local crimes have been on city streets for years and were not recently smuggled in.
”You can tell how many guns are out there by the amount of gun arrests that are being made and cops aren’t even being aggressive,” said a Manhattan cop. “Also, even though we are making gun arrests, shootings are still going up. That doesn’t add up.”
As the ATF statistics demonstrate, even nationally most of the firearms that are seized and traced are almost ten years old, which does suggest that trying to disrupt current trafficking efforts isn’t going to be the magic solution to reducing crime in New York or anywhere else.
But that last quote from the Manhattan cop is also interesting. Why are shootings increasing along with an increase in “gun arrests”? While the officer says it doesn’t add it up, it’s actually fairly easy to explain; most of the people illegally carrying firearms in New York aren’t doing so because they have any intent to commit violent crimes, but because they want to protect themselves.
A disproportionate amount of violent crime in New York (and virtually every other city) is committed by a relatively small group of offenders. The most effective crime strategy would be to focus on those individuals instead of simply trying to arrest anyone and everyone carrying a gun without a license. That’s not as hard as it sounds, because most of these individuals are well known to both police and residents of the neighborhoods that they prey on. A strategy that’s centered around stopping these individuals from shooting up the city would be far more effective than focusing on guns alone, and would most likely lead to a reduction in arrests as well as a decrease in violent crime.
The Biden and de Blasio administrations seem to be more interested in chasing headlines than pursuing those who are actually responsible for the increasingly common shootings and homicides, and it sounds like many NYPD officers are convinced that the strategy is going to do more to help anti-gun politicians than residents of high-crime neighborhoods.