In New York, many neighborhoods where shootings have long been a part of daily life – mostly lower-income, mostly blacks and Latinos – bear the brunt of the pandemic gun violence. 29 people were shot dead last weekend, including two visitors to a bar in Queens; a man on a subway platform in Brooklyn; and a Jamaican immigrant who was killed after a dispute in the Bronx.
Mayor Eric Adams, who took office earlier this year following a public safety message campaign, is focusing on the proliferation of firearms on city streets, trying to curb their proliferation through legislative and police changes. He has repeatedly asked courts and state legislators to treat arms crimes with tougher penalties, calling for a reduction in the minimum age at which someone can be charged as an adult in certain situations and for a review of state laws to reform the guarantee of 2020
“I say this again and again,” Mr Adams told a news conference on Monday. “We need help from Washington, we need help at the state level. We need help. But with or without this help, we will make our city a safe city.
Mr Adams, a former police captain, also played a crucial role in rebuilding New York’s specialized police unit, which focuses on gun arrests that were disbanded in 2020 amid protests across the city following the killing. Mr. Floyd. Unit officers last week began patrolling about 25 areas of the city to find weapons where the shooting is particularly high.
Across the country, arms purchases, which rose in 2020, have begun to catch up, at least when measured by the number of federal inspections, an approximate measure of Americans’ habits of buying weapons. After setting records during the pandemic – in one week in March 2021, the FBI reported more than 1.2 million background checks, the highest ever – the numbers have largely returned to pre-pandemic levels.
However, researchers estimate that there are at least 15 million more weapons in the country than there would have been if there had not been such a large increase in purchases during the pandemic.