Mayor Bill de Blasio's crime policy causing needless deaths

Hard-left mayor of New York Bill de Blasio has a problem, and he thinks he knows how to fix it.  The problem is that New York City, once the safest large city in America, now has a skyrocketing crime and murder rate.  Despite near-miraculous improvements in emergency trauma care, the murder rate is up almost 20 percent in 2015 alone.  De Blasio’s solution?  “Get a lot of guns away from the bad guys.”

This notion that violent crime would be reduced if only the inanimate instruments of such crime were somehow taken away from the people is the most faith-based article subscribed to by the left today.  Almost nothing is more empirically refuted in the social sciences, and almost nothing is more passionately believed by the mayor and his followers.

But as Professor John Lott and others have pointed out, “shall-issue” right-to-carry laws actually reduce violent crime.  The list of peer-reviewed statistically based economics papers confirming this thesis is long.  The list of statistical papers opposing this thesis is very, very short.

It seems that the left hews to the Hollywood idea that armed, licensed citizens will suddenly whip out their handguns and shoot people when angered.  But Americans permitted to carry guns are amazingly law-abiding.  For example, last year, the State of Nevada reported over 90,000 concealed permit holders.  But only 128 people had their permits revoked for any reason at all, and most of these were not for acts of violence.  Nevada has a very low incidence of violence.

The real reason for the heavy increase in the Big Apple’s violence rate is that the mayor stopped his predecessors’ policy of allowing police officers to “stop, question and frisk” suspicious people.  It is true that the NYPD had been under political pressure by liberal mayor Michael Bloomberg to decrease stop and frisk before De Blasio took office.  Stop and frisks peaked in 2011 with 685,724 stops and a low murder rate; under pressure, the NYPD began to slow them in 2012, and in 2013 there were only 191,851 stops.  On August 12, 2013, U.S. District Court judge Shira Scheindlin declared the NYPD’s policy of stop and frisk “unconstitutional” and ordered it halted.  Although the Circuit Court vacated Judge Scheindlin’s order and summarily removed her from the case, since taking office in January of 2014, Mayor de Blasio has refused to defend stop and frisk in court.  This left the NYPD with a policy effectively dead, because individual officers know that Mayor de Blasio does not have their backs on questionable cases.  If your own mayor and police commissioner won’t defend you any longer when you conduct a stop and frisk for your own safety, it doesn’t pay to do the stop in the first place. 

In May 2015, the New York Post reported that since Mayor Bill de Blasio refused to defend NYC's stop and frisk policy, the murder rate in Manhattan alone increased by 45%, and the number of people shot nearly doubled.  The raw murder numbers for the borough: "16 murders to date in 2015 versus 11 in 2014."  While this is still a “low” murder rate, it is certainly incontestable that ending stop and frisk did nothing to fight crime in NYC – or anywhere else.  Violence is up city-wide.

New Yorkers who live in places like Bedford-Stuyvesant and the Bronx don’t have personal security details like Mayor de Blasio does, and they have to live out the consequences of his experiment in social justice.  "People are scared," Alberto Ramos, a community activist from Cypress Hills, told Newsweek.  "Now, they know that [criminal] people could carry a weapon," he said.  "A lot of my community members used to like when they saw police frisking people."

Meanwhile, Hizzoner has planned a summer “All-Out” program that will send more than 300 cops to precincts where shootings and murders are up, like the 81st in Bedford-Stuyvesant and the 67th in East Flatbush, Brooklyn.  What the officers are going to be able to do there is anyone’s guess.

Christopher S. Carson, a lawyer, was a Kohler Fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute.

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