New York City is reeling from the terrible subway shooting, where fifteen New Yorkers were injured from gunshots. The city subway system has been the symbol of the rising criminality in the city, as dozens of violent crimes have been reported in the city over the last weeks. The shooting will surely reopen questions on how to tackle the ongoing New York crime wave and if the strict gun control laws that exist in New York have been effective at curbing violent crime.
The issue of gun crime has already been raised by local politicians even before the subway shooting. On Monday, Mayor Eric Adams (D) said that the proliferation of “ghost guns” (firearms that can be assembled at home and have no serial number) is a key cause of the rise of gun violence in the city, and asked Washington D.C for help in his attempts to curb the rise on violence.
Although the details of Tuesday’s shooting remain scarce and will probably be clarified as investigations continue, the tragedy will surely open the debate over which policies should the city embrace to curb the skyrocketing violence in the streets.
New York Crime Wave becomes a top priority for the city
The shooting in the NYC subway is not an isolated event. Overall crime in New York has experienced a dramatic rise over the last few months. The New York City Police Department reported 9,873 crimes just during March 2022, an increase of 36.5% compared to March last year. Gun crime has also increased significantly. The NYPD reported a total of 363 shootings in 2022, to this date, a 72.2% increase from two years ago.
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The ongoing rampant rise of gun crime in New York shocked the city a few months ago after two young NYPD officers were murdered while attending a routine call over a domestic disturbance. The deaths of officers Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora were commemorated during a massive police funeral procession in the streets of the metropolis.
Both the authorities of the State and the City of New York have acknowledged that the city is suffering a significant rise in gun crime and attacks. On Monday, just one day before he was arrested on corruption charges, Lt. Governor Brian Benjamin announced the creation of an interstate task force to “stop the flow of illegal guns.”
Mayor Adams also released, a few weeks after he took office, an extensive plan to curb gun crime during his tenure in office. Adams, who took office partly due to his promise to restore a tough-on-crime approach to public safety, will have to make good on his promises as crime and public safety position themselves as the key issue in his first year as mayor.
New York has one of the strongest gun control sets of laws in the country
Usually, when a mass shooting or a rise in gun violence occurs in any city, the debate between Democrats and Republicans centers on the issue of gun control laws, with the former advocating for stricter gun control measures while the latter saying that the imposition of strict gun control will do little to nothing in curbing violent crime.
That same dynamic, however, cannot be applied in New York, as the recent gun violence surge in the big Apple is happening despite the state having very strict gun control laws on the books. According to both pro-gun control groups like the Giffords Law Center and anti-gun control associations like the NRA, New York is among the top three states with strict gun control laws.
New York’s main gun control law is the SAFE Act which imposes a set of strict regulations for the possession and sale of firearms, while also broadening the definition of automatic firearms, banning most semiautomatic firearms, and restricting the magazine capacity of firearms. Furthermore, the city of New York has its own gun laws in place, and the city issues its own firearms permits.
However, as it has been clear after the subway shooting and the crime wave that is rocking the Big Apple, strict gun control laws are not a silver bullet for eliminating gun crime. Mayor Adams will have to bring back order to a city that is being shocked by crime, and he will not have permissive gun laws to point out as the culprits for the ongoing gun crime wave.