Will NY's new gun control lead to mass incarceration?

Craig Ruttle/Pool via AP, File

One thing I agree with Democrats on is their opposition to mass incarceration. The truth is that we have way too many illegal things in this country, way too many ways to lock a person up, and as a result, we have one of the largest prison populations on the planet.

That’s not a good thing as people locked up in prison aren’t contributing to the economy in any meaningful way.

Don’t get me wrong, I think people should be punished for breaking the law, but there are just too many laws making too many things illegal; things that don’t necessarily hurt anyone.

Yet a recent op-ed raises the question as to whether New York’s new gun control law will lead to mass incarceration.

On June 23, the day that the Supreme Court struck down New York state’s strict gun control laws, a coalition of public defender organizations released a joint statement calling on the Legislature to craft new gun laws that would avoid the mistakes of the old.

“Gun regulation need not mean funneling low-income Black and brown people into the criminal legal system,” reads the statement signed by the Bronx Defenders, Brooklyn Defender Services, Black Attorneys of Legal Aid, and a handful of upstate county public defender organizations.

“Today, we call on the Legislature to design new gun regulations that are rooted in equity, not racism and to address the mass criminalization and incarceration of people of color for unlicensed gun possession. We look forward to working with the Legislature to chart a new course in addressing gun violence – one that does not perpetuate racial discrimination and harm.”

The Legislature and Gov. Kathy Hochul did respond with sweeping new gun control legislation that was signed into law. However, it wasn’t what some public defenders and others were hoping for, prompting private complaints that the new laws did not respond to old concerns and would fuel mass incarceration.

Now, it’s important to note that many of the people who oppose mass incarceration also support this particular gun control law. They almost always support gun control laws.

And yet, they also support bail reform efforts that turn jails into revolving doors, even for repeat offenders or those accused of particularly heinous crimes, and support some DA’s refusal to prosecute any number of criminal acts–many of which are crimes with actual victims, even.

So, to me, it’s hilarious that they now suddenly want to run buck wild with a law that will result in a lot of people being locked up, particularly young black men.

After all, these are the same people who often try to argue that the police have a systemic racism problem and are unfairly targeting black people in numerous other instances. How can they believe that’s true and not think that black men are going to bear the brunt of this new law?

Mass incarceration is bound to follow, and yet we all know that people like Hochul will blame guns and not the very laws they ushered into being.

Aug 18, 2022 5:30 PM ET