As Katie wrote yesterday, the nation is undergoing something of an uptick in crime. Hopefully, it’s only a temporary increase, given that the nation–overall–has been seeing a continuing decline in violent crime.
In an interview with Police Foundation President Jim Bueermann, Cuomo discussed if this was due to illegal guns, but also mocked Second Amendment advocates, labeling them as a bunch of people who “just like guns.” Overall, the conversation was grounded in the impact of illegal guns, especially in New York City, where shootings have increased.
As you already know, criminals will always find ways to gain access to firearms; most of them obtain them through straw purchasers, which won’t be stopped through expanded background checks, or through a shady federal firearms license dealer. Either way, all parties involved are breaking the law because … that’s what criminals do.
The Department of Justice announced that new gun regulations regarding high-powered pistols and gun storage are coming this November. The government will also expand the definition as to who cannot own firearms, mainly dealing with domestic abusers.
Regarding New York City’s increased levels of violence, there might be a renewed debate regarding re-instituting stop-and-frisk, which has been criticized as racial profiling. In 2013, a federal judge ruled that thousands of stop-and-frisk incidents violated those citizens’ constitutional rights.
At the same time, a better argument for ending stop-and-frisk* is the fact that you’ll have to frisk a lot of people to find weapons, questioning it’s effectiveness and use of resources (FiveThirtyEight):
Beginning in 2007, the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) filed a series of Freedom of Information Act requests to get the NYPD’s data on its stop-and-frisk encounters and what was found. In 2012, the NYPD made more than 532,000 stops, each of which could progress to a frisk or to a full search. The police found guns only 715 times.1 In other words, guns were found during 0.1 percent of stops.
That figure casts doubt on whether stop-and-frisks are useful in finding weapons and taking them off the street, but it is also the least generous way of judging the NYPD’s program. Officers might stop passers-by for a variety of reasons (matching the description of someone involved in a crime, appearing to be involved in a drug deal, etc.), and, in many of these cases, the goal is not to find weapons.
The NYCLU data set shows that 23 percent of all stops and searches were prompted by concerns about a possible weapon. The police did find guns more often in these cases (36 of every 10,000 weapon-related stops compared with seven of every 10,000 non-weapon-related stops). However, this still seems like a low success rate, and it may be skewed. Police officers write up their reasons for a stop afterward and can retroactively claim gun-related causes after finding the weapon, even if they weren’t the true reason for the stop.
The volume of stops meant that the NYPD wound up finding hundreds of guns, even though the chances of finding one on any particular stop were small. Overall, the guns found through stop-and-frisks accounted for about 18 percent of all 3,928 guns that New York City found and traced through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in 2012.
Fighting criminality isn’t easy–and of course, liberals and conservatives don’t want firearms falling into the hands of criminals. But the availability of firearms to citizenry isn’t the problem. It’s a constitutional right for us to own firearms. The vast majority of gun owners and concealed carry permit holders are not criminals–and follow their respective state’s gun laws. And, yes, some Second Amendment advocates like guns–many own them–but they’re also protecting one of our oldest civil rights–a right that protects us from an authoritarian government.
*This isn’t an endorsement, just throwing it out there.