“IN NEWS that flew slightly under the radar this week, a report published in The Record showed that gun confiscations in Paterson had jumped by roughly 70 percent last year, a promising sign amid more disturbing headlines about a rash of fatal shootings,” northjersey.com’s editorial Getting the Guns reminds readers. Seventy percent! Holy cop stop Batman! Yes Robin, but I remind you once again to follow your math teacher’s advice. Examine the absolute numbers involved rather than simply accept a percentage increase as a sign of a significant trend. Gosh Batman, you’re right! I keep doing that. How many guns are we talking about? Well, old chum . . .
As Joe Malinconico of the Paterson Press reports, statistics compiled by the state police show that the number of guns seized by authorities in the city went from 94 in 2013 to 162 last year. Only Newark, with 331 gun seizures, and Trenton, with 163, ranked ahead of Paterson in 2014.
Despite northjersey.com’s underlying, unspoken assumption that 162 fewer guns in Paterson, New Jersey equals less crime, I remain unconvinced that the haul had any appreciable effect on Paterson’s crime rate – 1,555 violent crimes in 2013 – or its overall gang problem. Last year, “the number of homicides was higher than at any other time in the past two decades.”
An even more granular reality check is in order. Going back to northjersey.com’s previous “under-the-radar report” on gun seizures, we learn that . . .
The statistics do not indicate where in Paterson the guns were seized, the type of the weapons that were taken, if they were loaded, and whether someone was arrested as part of the seizure.
It has become commonplace for city police officers to report that they found weapons when they arrest suspected drug dealers in Paterson. City officials also have put out more than a dozen press releases during the past six months announcing that police found stashed “community guns” with the help of residents’ tips. Often those guns are found hidden in garbage cans and vacant buildings.
Hmm. I remember writing something about New York City’s lack of prosecutorial zeal in firearms-related busts, where judges were skeptical of cops’ constant claims that they found a gun on a perp busted for drug offenses. Is it possible that the Paterson po-po, the gold standard of well-run, corruption-free policing, may have over-stated the whole gun seizure thing?
Guns aren’t the problem in Paterson. Drugs and gangs are. Oh, and corruption. The paper and police focus on gun seizures is the worst kind of anti-gun agitprop: the kind that prevents right-minded people from doing what needs to be done to protect innocent life.