The gun violence epidemic is a scourge in the U.S., costing thousands of lives yearly. In New York City, Mayor Eric Adams has developed a Gun Violence Prevention Task Force and blueprint to address violent crime. In discussion with Kate Zernike, National Correspondent at The New York Times, New York City Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell explained that the recent Bruen decision in the U.S. Supreme Court, which allowed concealed carry, has changed how police can evaluate the proper cause standard, but the NYPD itself has not changed, continuing to interdict and apprehend gun criminals.
The City’s approach considers community wellbeing and safety, noted NY City Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright, Co-Chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. They intend to use a whole-of-government approach to address root causes like lack of education and employment, and mental health issues. Mental health is important both to prevent violence, Wright continued, and help communities heal. Sewell agreed that this problem will not be solved by policing alone.
For John Devito, ATF Special Agent in New York State, part of the solution involves working together to use the tool we have for tracing, ballistics, and information for the 500 million guns in America. There is a relatively small criminal element commiting most of the crimes; law enforcement needs surgical precision to excise that element so the community can thrive. He noted that he is hopeful about the Mayor’s approach.
The task force takes a holistic approach, explained AT Mitchell, Gun Violence Prevention Czar, Man Up Inc. USA, and Co-Chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. If we can reach the 1% of people committing the crimes, we can teach them that violence is not the answer. Interrupting violence at its core takes hard work in communities. Wright offered that surveys say people want public safety and justice, and Sewell confirmed that police have overwhelming support as long as policing is far and effective.
“We in law enforcement have to be better. We have to evolve, we have to use this intelligence on a daily basis to drive our investigative priorities.”
John Devito, Special Agent ATF, New York State
“I think we all agree that we’re not going to police our way out of some of the things that we are seeing every single day.”
Commissioner Keechant Sewell, Police Commissioner, New York City Police Department
“Violence is actually a disease and, if left untreated, it can spread.”
AT Mitchell, Gun Violence Prevention Czar, Man Up Inc USA, Co-Chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force
“Gun violence is a symptom. Crime stats are a symptom.”
Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright, Deputy Mayor, Office fo the Mayor–City of New York, Co-Chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force
“These past two and half years have been unprecedented and it has led to real stress.”
Kate Zernike, National Correspondent, The New York Times