NYC’s Adams Says Handguns Are Behind U.S. Violent Crime Wave
(Bloomberg) -- New York Democratic mayoral nominee Eric Adams said after a meeting with President Joe Biden that the availability of handguns is driving increases in violent crime in the U.S., and that too much attention is paid to police practices.
“We can’t continue to respond to symptoms,” Adams said.
Federal money should be directed at what he called the underlying causes of violent crime. He said he asked Biden to use funding from coronavirus relief programs to pay for jobs programs, education, and mental health services rather than increasing the size of police forces.
“We spend too much time looking at the role police play,” he said.
Adams also reiterated criticism that too much attention was focused on assault weapons used in mass shootings, saying that people of color killed by handguns in cities were too often forgotten in policy-making discussions.
“The problem in America is the handgun,” he said.
The meeting served as a debut on the national stage for Adams, a former New York Police captain who earlier this month secured the Democratic nomination for mayor and is now seen as the likely successor to Bill de Blasio.
Earlier, as the meeting began, Biden said “stemming the flow of firearms” used in violent crimes is a focus for his administration, including “holding rogue gun dealers accountable for violating the federal law.”
In New York City, police said there were 1,500 shootings in 2020 - nearly double the incidents of the prior year. And police statistics show there have already been 886 shootings through July 4 of this year. Those trends are mirrored in cities across the nation, where 2020 was the deadliest year of gun violence in decades.
On Sunday, Adams said national Democrats erred by focusing their legislative efforts on assault weapons often used in high-profile mass killing events, rather than illegal handguns often responsible for everyday crime.
“It is extremely important that just as we became energetic after we saw mass shootings with assault rifles in the suburban parts of our country – which we should have – we should have also focused on the handgun,” Adams said during an interview with CNN. “The numbers of those who are killed with handguns are astronomical and if we don’t start having real federal legislation matched with states and cities we’re never going to get this crisis under control.”
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, and top police officials from Memphis, Wilmington, Newark and Chicago were also in attendance. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot pressed Biden for more assistance in combating gun crimes during his visit to the city last week.
Earlier Monday, the White House released a memo to state and local officials calling on them to use coronavirus stimulus funds to increase the police presence in communities experiencing an increase in gun violence. The Justice Department has also announced that it is launching gun trafficking strike forces in New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area.
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