Over the last several years, a lot of people have talked about treating so-called gun violence–violence carried out with a firearm–as a “public health crisis.” This is particularly popular among anti-gun healthcare workers; because they’re typically convinced they have the answer to the problems they only see a small portion of.
When politicians start bandying the term about, though, it’s time to get nervous.
After all, we all saw what happened during the last public health crisis. During COVID, we saw numerous infringements on people’s liberties, including gun rights. It’s not difficult to look at that and think, “Here we go again.”
And New York City Mayor Eric Adams isn’t the kind one can just expect to skip the anti-gun rhetoric. So when I saw he used the term, I got really nervous.
I’m not so sure that I should have, though. because it seems the approach he favors is not that different from something I’ve long advocated for.
A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:
New York has a new plan to reduce gun violence. Crime in the city has gone down overall, but as much of the – but as in much of the U.S., there’s been an increase in youth gun violence. Here’s NPR’s Jasmine Garsd.
JASMINE GARSD, BYLINE: First, the good news for New Yorkers – crime in the city is down by a lot. According to the NYPD, compared to June of last year, there was 25% less burglary. Gun violence overall is also down. Now the bad news – car theft has skyrocketed, and there’s been a rise in youth involved in gun violence, which is part of a larger national trend. Earlier this week, Mayor Eric Adams unveiled the city’s blueprint to tackle gun violence by looking at the factors that might lead young people to fall into violent altercations.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
ERIC ADAMS: The map is clear. You do an analysis of the map, you see high gun violence. You’re also going to see high unemployment. You’re going to see dropout rates high. You’re going to see mental health issues high.
SHEENA WRIGHT: Gun violence is a symptom of a larger issue that is really rooted in community well-being. It’s rooted in kind of mental health and trauma. So by the time someone actually picks up a gun, points at someone and shoots it, there’s a lot of failings that have happened before that.
In other words, this “public health” approach is about preventing people from committing acts of violence rather than using government overreach to curb the Second Amendment.
Granted, this is all a brief news piece on NPR and not a fully-formed policy position, but if this is where Adams is going, I’m glad to see it.
Especially since the focus on guns alone is incredibly stupid in light of the fact that even our non-gun homicide rates are so much higher than other developed nations. Take away the guns and we’re still going to have a sky-high homicide rate internationally.
But by focusing on the people, as it appears Adams is planning, and it doesn’t matter what weapons they have available because it’s about preventing people from trying to kill one another.
That’s a huge step forward and I’m glad to see it.
Honestly, if this is the public health approach we’re likely to see going forward, I suspect few in the gun rights world would take issue with the concept. Sure, there may be problems with the application–and we’re going to have to wait and see just what Adams has in mind there–but the concept itself? Nope.
We’re going to have to watch to see how this goes, but here’s hoping it’s not the typical trainwreck we expect from the Big Apple.