No need to let your thoughts meander back to the nursing home dead or accusations of sexual assault against Cuomo when there are real assaults, shootings and murders to capture all eight seconds of your attention span. And New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has you covered. Finally, something a governor can make a stink about that won’t splash back on him. Or will it?
On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo declared a new state of emergency around gun violence and committed almost $139 million to reverse the trend of rising shootings and murders across the state.
The emergency disaster declaration, which the governor said was the first by a state to address gun violence, would allow New York officials to quickly coordinate resources and provide funding for community-led efforts to prevent and respond to shootings.
The nuts and bolts weren’t entirely clear from Gov. Cuomo’s twitter announcement.
Today I am issuing an Executive Order declaring a Disaster Emergency on gun violence.
Gun violence is a public health crisis, and we must treat it like one.
This declaration will allow us to give this crisis the full attention & resources it deserves.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) July 6, 2021
Murders are bad. So what could be wrong with this “first in the nation” initiative?
The governor called gun violence a civil rights injustice that overwhelmingly affects poor, Black and Latino communities, whose youth are three to 10 times as likely as whites to be victims of gun violence, he said. But the governor said the issue is urgent for all New Yorkers because the state cannot rebound from the pandemic without addressing it.
It’s easy to count the number of people who are shot and/or killed by gun violence, and so there’s little dispute as to who the victims are. But then, who are the perpetrators? Who’s doing the shooting that makes “poor, Black and Latino” youth disproportionate the victims of gun violence? Victims don’t gives rise to shootings. Shooters do.
In New York City, where he spoke, the police recorded more than 1,500 shootings in 2020, nearly almost twice as many as 2019, and the violence so far this year is at its highest level since the early 2000s. Some 886 people have been shot in 765 incidents this year through July 4, according to police statistics. The violence appeared to ease in June, which saw shootings decrease 20 percent from June 2020 — though remaining still well above 2019 levels.
Why this is happening remains a mystery. There is no lack of theories, uttered in absolute earnest but completely unproven, And there is no shame in seizing the opportunity to use these numbers to push one agenda or another, because believers want to believe even if dead bodies pile up in the streets. They just grasp for another excuse as to why their fix is fabulous and it’s someone else’s fault that people shoot other people.
So what’s the “emergency” plan to deal with this situation, which may be a problem, may be the ordinary ebb and flow of crime, or may even be a direct product of progressive empowerment?
More than half of the money in Mr. Cuomo’s plan, about $76 million, will go toward creating some 21,000 jobs and other activities for young people considered at risk for being victims or perpetrators of gun violence.
In a news release, the governor’s office tied the spike in gun violence to the “destabilizing impact” of disruptions to school and work caused by the pandemic, and cited unspecified research that said summer jobs programs decreased the likelihood that youth would be involved in violence by 45 percent.
Jobs are good, even if they’re only to be divvied up by race. Whether the problem is that kids are choosing to go out and kill other people for lack of a minimum wage job is doubtful, and whether this plan can be executed within the next five years is a mystery, but jobs are good.
The governor’s seven-point plan requires the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services to collect data on firearms offenses from local police departments weekly instead of monthly. The agency will then report the information to an office of gun violence prevention to be set up within the state Heahlth Department to direct resources to areas where shootings are rising.
On the one hand, we know where this is happening because that’s where all the cop cars are and where the ambulances pick up the bodies. On the other hand, creating some sort of official “science” way to direct resources the day after someone was shot to death could certainly create the appearance of effectiveness if there are no murders on the block the next day when it’s covered in cops.
But what’s Andy talking about when he says gun violence needs to be treated as a public health crisis, aside from the obvious piece about getting shot and/or killed being notably bad for one’s health?
Mr. Cuomo also said he wants to expand across the state a hospital-based intervention model in the Bronx, where conflict mediators try to talk shooting victims and their friends and family out of retaliating.
Whether it worked so well in the Bronx is a bit of a mystery, but talking shooting victims out of retaliating doesn’t do much for the public health crisis of shooting the victims in the first place. But Cuomo isn’t just ginning up pop rhetoric. He’s got a secret weapon he’s about to deploy.
To combat the flow of illegal guns onto New York streets, the State will create a new Gun Trafficking Interdiction Unit within the New York State Police.
So state troopers will now be stopping cars and trucks to prevent illegal guns from being brought into New York? How will they identify which cars to stop? They’re not likely to have signs on the side saying “illegal guns in the trunk.” But it won’t be anything like “stop & frisk” because that would be wrong, unconstitutional and require racist profiling.
Getting shot, getting killed, is very much a serious problem, but this is a remarkably unserious response, much like Cuomo’s signing a law to permits suits against gun manufacturers which is federally pre-empted by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. Whether this is the syllogism* at work or the invocation of wokey catchphrase solutions that save no one is unclear, but one thing is certain. No Democratic politician called for Cuomo to resign yesterday, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time.
Something must be done
This is something
This must be done