New York City Making It Easier To Shoot Up Than To Safely Go Shooting

(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

There’s exactly one gun range in New York City that’s open to the public, which means that any resident who wants to safely and responsibly go shooting can either head to the Westside Rifle & Pistol Range or travel outside of the city to get in some training and practice. And Westside Rifle & Pistol Range, while open to the public, is still a privately-owned business. The city’s Parks and Recreation Department runs plenty of recreational centers, basketball and tennis courts, swimming pools, and even an archery range, but a government-run gun range is out of the question given the anti-gun attitudes so prevalent at City Hall.

But while the politicians in charge of the Big Apple would never sign off or approve of a city-funded space for people to shoot safely, they’ve got no qualms about giving the green light (and handing over plenty of greenbacks) to a pair of locations where people can shoot up heroin and fentanyl under the supervision of healthcare workers.

Trained staff at two sites — in the neighborhoods of East Harlem and Washington Heights — will provide clean needles, administer naloxone to reverse overdoses and provide users with options for addiction treatment, city health officials said. Users will bring their own drugs.

New York, the country’s most populous city, will become the first U.S. city to open officially authorized injection sites — facilities that opponents view as magnets for drug abuse but proponents praise as providing a less punitive and more effective approach to addressing addiction.

I love how the New York Times informs their readers that users will have to bring their own drugs. Though give it a few years and I’m sure there’ll be politicians in the city demanding subsidized drug buys too.

In an interview, Dr. Dave A. Chokshi, the city’s health commissioner, said the city was moving forward to address a public health crisis.

“2020, unfortunately, was the deadliest year on record for overdoses both here in New York City as well as nationally. Every four hours, someone dies of a drug overdose in New York City,” he said. “We feel a deep conviction and also sense of urgency in opening overdose prevention centers.”

It’s odd to me that when homicides rise the answer from the Left is to crack down on legal gun ownership, but when drug overdoses soar the response is to facilitate the use of illegal and deadly narcotics. And while the city may not be directly running the injection sites, it’s actively funding the non-profits who will be in charge of the day-to-day operations.

The city will not operate or staff the drug injection sites, Dr. Chokshi said. The two nonprofits that run the needle exchange programs — New York Harm Reduction Educators and Washington Heights Corner Project — are merging to form OnPoint NYC and will expand their services to offer supervised injection at the current sites, he said. The city provides funding to the two nonprofits.

“I know deep in my soul that we are doing the right thing,” said Sam Rivera, the executive director of OnPoint. “The data doesn’t lie.” He said the sites expected to start operating on Tuesday.

I don’t know what data Sam Rivera is reviewing, but I can’t help but notice that in Vancouver, British Columbia, which has had a supervised injection site for almost 20 years now, fatal drug overdoses have reached an all-time high. On the surface, it makes sense that there would be fewer overdose deaths if you can convince addicts to shoot up in a supervised environment, and in fact one 2017 study found that Vancouver’s injection site had prevented one fatal overdose for every 1,137 users. On the other hand, the fact that drug overdose deaths continue to increase in Vancouver tells me that these sites aren’t having much luck in helping addicts get treatment or in preventing people from using the drugs to begin with.

What I really find fascinating (and infuriating) is that New York’s “public health” approach to drug overdose deaths and violent crime could not be further apart. Why aren’t we hearing Bill de Blasio and other officials demanding federal laws to get “high-powered drugs off the street”? Why does a “commonsense drug law” involve providing a heroin addict with free needles and medical supervision, but a “commonsense gun law” puts people in prison for simply possessing a gun without a government-issued permission slip?

Like so much of what I see coming out of New York these days, it just doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t see much common sense in making it easier to shoot up under trained supervision than to safely go shooting at a publicly accessible range, but I guess a rural bumpkin like me just doesn’t get the New York state of mind.