(NEW YORK) — With gun violence on the rise in major cities across the country, including New York City, elected officials are scrambling to come up with solutions.
President Joe Biden and New York City Mayor Eric Adams recently released their own proposals to reduce gun violence. On Thursday, the two met with New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to discuss their strategies and speak with community members who have been caught in the crossfire.
This comes nearly two weeks after two NYPD officers, Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora, were shot and killed by a man who illegally had a gun that was allegedly brought from out of state. The weapon was reported stolen in Maryland and was never recovered prior to the Harlem shooting, investigators said.
There were over 44,000 gun deaths and over 40,000 gun injuries recorded in the U.S. last year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that identifies and tracks gun incidents through police reports, news items and other sources.
Both leaders’ plans — which dovetail on a number of strategies, including stopping the flow of illegal guns into the city — are scheduled to go into effect in the coming weeks.
The Biden plan
On Thursday, the Biden administration announced additional steps to its ongoing plan to reduce gun violence.
Under the proposal, the U.S. Department of Justice will work with state and local law enforcement to “address the most significant drivers of violence” in each town and municipality.
The agency will also strengthen its multi-state task forces that are tasked with targeting the Iron Pipeline — the illegal flow of guns from the South, which has fewer restrictions on gun sales, to locations in the North.
The task forces launched last summer in cities such as New York, Washington D.C. and Chicago and have taken over 3,100 illegal guns off the streets, the White House said.
Biden will also call on Congress to approve half a billion dollars in appropriations spending to states and localities. Roughly $300 million would be allocated for hiring more police officers, and the rest would be used for “evidence-based community violence interventions,” the White House said in a news release.
“The answer is not to defund the police; it’s to give you the tools, the training, the funding to be partners, to be protectors,” Biden said during his New York City visit.
The Biden administration has already doled out money to states and localities to expand on programs that help troubled youths and teens, such as summer job initiatives and mental health programs.
The Adams plan
On Jan. 24, Adams unveiled his Blueprint to End Gun Violence in New York City, a 15-page plan that targets what he said are the root causes of gun violence in the city.
There have been 94 reported shooting incidents in New York City so far this year, 23 more than there were during the same period in 2021, according to NYPD data. There were 458 reported shooting incidents during the same period in 1991, the NYPD data showed.
“Statistically, New York City is still the safest big city in America. But we are not going to be satisfied with statistics,” Adams said at a news conference on Jan. 24.
Adams’ plan calls for both intervention and prevention.
The NYPD will increase its presence in 30 precincts where 80% of the city’s violence has taken place, according to the blueprint.
The mayor’s plan is also bringing back the controversial undercover anti-crime police unit, which was disbanded in 2020. The unit was accused of racial profiling and excessive force for minor violations particularly in minority neighborhoods, and criticism grew following the 2014 death of Eric Garner and the protests after George Floyd’s death in 2020.
Adams said the revived unit, which will be called “Neighborhood Safety Teams,” will be more transparent as the officers will have body cameras and “enhanced training and oversight.”
“In doing this, we will avoid mistakes of the past,” Adams said.
Police will implement spot checks at bus terminals, train stations and other entry points to search for illegal weapons that are brought into the city, Adams said.
Additionally, the blueprint creates programs and funding to prevent New Yorkers, particularly younger residents, from turning to guns. Adams will launch a summer youth employment program and expand the city’s Fair Futures program, which provides a life coach for children and teens in the foster care system.
The plan also doles out more money to the city’s mental health programs and provides direct support to hospitals, shelters and other locations that help those affected New Yorkers.
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