Cortney O'Brien

In an effort to combat an uptick in gun violence in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio and his administration are investing in a new $12.7 million project that will focus on anti-gun violence messaging and community interventions.

Straight from the mayor's office:

Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito today announced the expansion of the City’s efforts to reduce gun violence, through the creation of the “Gun Violence Crisis Management System,” a citywide initiative to reduce gun violence, from five to 14 precincts accounting for 51 percent of shootings across the city. The new initiative expands on a previous system that includes and is centered around the “cure violence” model and now includes “wrap around” services, programs that respond to meet the needs of every spectrum in the community that is impacted by gun violence. This new strategy employs evidence-based community interventions, anti-violence messaging, and support services in areas with high rates of gun violence, and will be driven by the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, the Departments of Education, Health and Mental Hygiene, Probation and Youth and Community Development, and the City University of New York.

The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation beamed about their cooperation in the program, focusing on a "Guns Down Life Up" message:

“HHC has been a leader in developing hospital-based violence interruption programs in response to the devastating effects of gun shots, stabbings and assaults that are too familiar to our dedicated emergency room care teams,” said HHC President Dr. Ram Raju. With our ‘Guns Down Life Up’ message and strong neighborhood partners that work with Harlem Hospital and in HHC hospitals in Brooklyn and the Bronx, we are bridging public safety and public health to build healthier communities. We hope to link even more HHC hospitals with the new cure violence community programs.”

Ironically, the recent rise in gun crime may in part be explained by De Blasio’s decision to scale back Mayor Bloomberg’s stop and frisk policy in January. That’s not only my assumption, by the way:

A leading NYPD expert said that the spike could stem from the dramatic reduction in Stop and Frisk.

“At some point people on the streets who would have been inclined to carry guns, but didn’t because they knew they faced a risk of being stopped, they’re gonna conclude that the stop risk is now permanently dropped and they’re going to go back to carrying guns. That could well be what’s going on now,” Heather MacDonald, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.

However, De Blasio is hopeful his new initiative will be a successful one:

“We’re proud to announce an investment of nearly $13 million to prevent shootings before they occur,” the mayor said.

Other supporters of the program applaud its condemnation of retaliatory violence:

Efay Charles, who runs an anti-violence program, said it’s about teaching the right skills.

“How to handle disputes without pulling a weapon,” she said.

While it may be frightening to think of more guns on the streets of New York City, it's hard to ignore the statistics when it comes to good guys who stopped criminals with their own weapon:

Guns are used 2.5 million times a year in self-defense. Law-abiding citizens use guns to defend themselves against criminals as many as 2.5 million times every year—or about 6,850 times a day.(1) This means that each year, firearms are used more than 80 times more often to protect the lives of honest citizens than to take lives.(2)

John R. Lott, Jr. at USA Today provides another important statistic:

With just one exception, every public mass shooting in the USA since at least 1950 has taken place where citizens are banned from carrying guns.

De Blasio seems disinterested in these numbers in his obsession with scaling back Second Amendment rights. Last year, he even proclaimed Bloomberg didn't go far enough on gun control:

"I think he's been right on gun control, right on immigration reform and right on climate change. I think in several cases there was a sort of incompleteness to the approach," de Blasio said.

"I think on gun control we have to go after the money supply to manufacturers of guns and ammunition," he said, suggesting cutting off public pension investments to those companies so they can't "fund the industry that then turns around and funds the NRA."

The Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, the Department of Education, Department of Health and Hygiene, Department of Probation, Department of Youth and Community Development, and the City University of New York will all take part in De Blasio’s anti-gun violence program.

I join New Yorkers in hoping this initiative is successful and significantly lowers the homicide rate. However, gun control measures have failed several times before. Plus, based on the support the new program is getting, I hope you can forgive me for being a bit skeptical.

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Cortney O'Brien

Cortney O'Brien is Townhall's Deputy News Editor. Follow her on Twitter @obrienc2.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography