So far, [New York City Mayor Eric] Adams has ordered more police officers to be deployed to the subways as part of a plan with the state. The joint plan includes dispatching mental health professionals into the system. But hirings have yet to begin. On Friday the state released requests for proposals for community groups to respond.
Gun violence has abated in some neighborhoods but persisted in the Bronx and parts of northern Manhattan, where earlier this month a 19-year-old woman working at Burger King in East Harlem was fatally shot during a robbery.
In 2021, gun arrests citywide were up 6% over the prior year and 34% compared to 2019, according to crime figures. However, shootings have soared in other major U.S. cities, suggesting a national trend related to the pandemic.
The gun used by the Harlem shooter was a Glock with an additional magazine capable of firing upwards of 40 additional rounds. It had been reported stolen in 2017 from Baltimore, police said.
“Adams has to start thinking about how to disrupt the supply of guns to the street,” said Jeffrey Fagan, a Columbia Law School professor who studies policing. “We can’t arrest our way to safety any more than we could arrest our way out of a drug epidemic.”
The situation stands to worsen in the spring, he added, when the U.S. Supreme Court is weighing a ruling that would make it easier for people to carry guns in public.
Gun laws in New York City are among the strictest in the country. With only a few exceptions, a city resident who possesses a firearm must have a license issued by the NYPD, which can take over a year to obtain and is often granted only under the most stringent of circumstances.
The Brooklyn district attorney, Eric Gonzalez, has attributed 70% of guns seized to coming from southern states that have looser gun buying restrictions. However, some law enforcement members have argued that illegal guns circulate for years in the city and that crackdowns on smuggling have limited impact.