Editorial | With surging gun crime, the threat of 90’s NYC lawlessness looms large

New Yorkers are accustomed to spikes in gun crime during the summer months of June, July and August. The reasons given for these increases are often vague and rarely expanded upon. To rest on a deduction that hot weather leads to hot heads that leads to widespread acts of horrific violence stretches the boundaries of causality to say the least. And this leads many of us to wonder, why? Exactly?

Nonetheless, the statistics speak for themselves. This correlation exists, and this year it can be expounded upon.

The summer’s carnage has reached heights not seen since the 90’s—with 1996 being a particularly bloody year—according to statistics released by the NYPD for the month of June alone.

Between June 1 and 30, there was a 130% increase in the number of shooting incidents across the city compared to the same time period last year, with an uptick in every borough. Also in the same time period, burglaries have increased 118% and auto thefts by 51%. A feeling of lawlessness prevails.

Thankfully, this year, some concrete “whys?” exist beyond the hot-head/trigger-happy platitude of old. Although we must lament the gun-related deaths, in explanations we can find sense amidst the senseless—and expect our elected officials and police authorities to strategize accordingly.

COVID-19 cabin fever, bail reform, early releases from Rikers to curb COVID-19 infections, gang warfare over the homicide of Crips-affiliated rapper Pop Smoke and the tragic killing of George Floyd and at the hands of the Minneapolis police have all been suggested as factors in the increased shootings.

Additionally, it has been well publicized that a Virginia to NYC gun trafficking ring had been enabling some of these acts of violence through the distribution of illegal firearms and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Although an undercover bust in Queens on July 22 resulted in three trafficker arrests, only 23 of these illegal firearms were recovered.

To say that this bust was the tip of the iceberg is not beyond reason.

So it is with great relief that Major Bill de Blasio has pledged to speed up the full reopening of the court system in order that the backlog of hundreds of arrests for gun possession alone can begin to be addressed. If this does not happen soon, de Blasio will indeed be back to “the bad old days” he vowed to avoid at a press conference back on June 22. The lawlessness of NYC in the 90’s took a long time to clean up—and Giuliani didn’t have a global pandemic on his plate.