Less than 24 hours after a teen killed 21 people in a Texas school shooting, Mayor Eric Adams joined Department of Education Chancellor David Banks Wednesday to reveal how the city and NYPD are working to keep the city’s schools safe.
Three handguns, seized at schools in recent operations, were shown to press at police headquarters on May 25 alongside the rucksacks which concealed them. For many, this will come as horrifying news after 19 children lost their lives during a tragic school shooting one day prior.
To curb guns off the streets and schools, Mayor Adams is pushing for bag checks at train stations and schools, especially in areas where there are high amounts of shootings.
In light of the recent tragedy in Texas, Adams declared that additional NYPD units will be passing by schools to ensure safety.
“Yesterday, I’m sure you hugged your children a little harder. Those of you who have children have to ask yourself what have we become as a country? We’re watching, as I say over and over again, children killing children,” the mayor said, referring to the Texas tragedy.
Adams took a moment to reflect on the lives lost in the South, the 11-year-old killed in the Bronx, and the victims in the Buffalo mass shooting. He emphasized that the United States has had over 200 school shootings and urges that merely 10 senators are needed to help pass stronger gun legislation.
“The guns keep coming, doesn’t matter how much we take off the street. There’s an endless flow of guns on our streets, guns on the subway and guns in our schools,” Adams said.
The mayor also called on parents and guardians to step in and examine their children’s social media accounts, search their rooms, bags, and talk to them regarding gun violence. He specifically called out Instagram and “drill rap” videos for romancing gun use and violence.
“We want to mobilize parents. We want to ask parents to join us in this partnership of saving our children. And this is not blaming parents and we don’t want that message out. This is not saying parents are responsible for the crime, we’re seeing just the opposite. These guns have been placed in the hands of their babies because of people who are dangerous to our city, and we want to arm them with tools and ways to identify this problem,” Adams said.
Last week, members of school safety recovered two handguns with 18 bullets from a student’s backpack. On May 24 in Brooklyn, a 13-year-old middle school student was found with a loaded 380 caliber semi-automatic firearm in his bag. Since the school year began in the fall, the mayor stated that 20 guns were recovered from schools. This also comes in tandem with other dangerous weapons such as box cutters.
“We’re asking parents to sit down tonight and have an honest conversation with their children to save the lives of their children,” Adams said, “We have to stop living life the way it ought to be and live life the way it is. Guns are in the hands of our children.”
Adams lauded the work performed by school safety teams, as well as announcing that the NYPD statistics show a decline in shootings in both April and May.
“The NYPD School Safety Division stands at the forefront of that work. They must not only keep everyone in our public schools safe, but they must also ensure they actually feel safe. Every single person who comes through those doors needs to feel safe,” First Deputy Commissioner Edward A. Caban said.
According to Caban, by the end of last week NYPD school safety agents recovered 5,546 dangerous instruments, representing a 124% increase from the pre-pandemic school year 2018-2019. The 20 firearms recovered this year marked a 300% increase from the five that were recovered during the previous school year.
DOE Chancellor Banks shared his disgust with the increase in gun violence and the lack of change that has occurred since the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012.
“At some point our nation must come together and decide whether it values easy access to guns or the lives of our children,” Banks said.
“Just last week, we had an incident where a community member came forward to let our school safety agents know about a dangerous weapon in one of our schools. In fact, with these weapons that you’ve seen on display here today by the mayor, most of them were uncovered because there was someone who alerted a school safety agent who was then able to act,” Banks added.
Banks stated that all New York City public schools have crisis teams in place as well as social workers and caring adults who are there to assist. However, he emphasized that parents and guardians need to say something if they see something. He also adds that while New York City has not suffered a mass school shooting, he said that children who’ve been in possession of these weapons are doing so out of fear for their own safety traveling to and from school.
“Most of these weapons are being brought when we talk to the students who brought them to school. They’re not met to resolve conflicts in school. They don’t have a problem with their classmates. They’re afraid of when they’re going to school and when they’re leaving from school to go home. They don’t feel safe in the streets, they feel that they are under duress. There are threats that are made against them, and they’re saying to us, I’m trying to protect myself so I can make it home,” Banks said.
To push forward with making changes, Banks said he will be meeting with various unions who work for the schools to share ideas on what they can do to provide safety. In one meeting with the principal’s union, it was suggested that the school doors are locked while classes are in session.