Amid New York’s spike in major crime, so many guns flood the streets that police seize more and more of them — and bust more people on gun possession charges, new NYPD data shows.
Every day in 2022, cops have taken 20 guns off the street, and arrested 13 people on gun charges, according to data released by the NYPD on Thursday. That amounts to about 2,600 firearms taken off the street, and — as of May 8 — some 1,693 arrests on gun possession charges.
If that pace holds, the department will seize more than 7,000 firearms and make 4,800 gun arrests by year’s end, NYPD data shows.
Both figures would be a sharp increase from previous years. Police seized about 6,200 guns and arrested 4,497 people on gun busts in 2021. In 2020, cops recovered more than 5,300 guns and arrested 4,280 people on gun charges.
The rise in busts this year comes as the NYPD deployed the new Neighborhood Safety Unit, which police brass say is aimed at taking guns off the streets.
It’s hard to say how the spike in gun seizures and busts is affecting crime.
NYPD data shows that as of May 8, murders are down 14% this year, and shootings are down 5%. Police have responded to 138 murders and 421 shooting incidents, the numbers show. Both figures are down from the same period of 2021, when police counted 160 murders and 443 shooting incidents.
But overall crime is up 41% so far in 2022, figuring in rises of 12% in rapes, 45% in robberies, 20% in assaults, 34% in burglaries, 53% in thefts, and 61% in auto thefts, the numbers Show.
Despite police success in finding more guns, New York City is afraid of plenty of people. Elaine Ramos, 62, an East Harlem resident, said the city has gotten more dangerous.
“You say you’re getting guns off the street but people keep on getting hurt — and it’s always the ones that are doing nothing, minding their own business,” said Ramos.
“New York was never this bad,” she said. “Damn, you can even get shot while being on the train, and that’s crazy.”
Ramos added, “You know what they should do? I want to stop and cool back. That was a good thing.”
Pauline Webb, 62, a Bronx home health aide who lives near Yankee Stadium, said she won’t go outside after she gets home from work, “because everyone has a piece.”
On Wednesday, a 22-year-old man was shot and critically wounded in Mullaly Park, near his home.
“The gun violence is terrible here,” Webb said. “We just can’t seem to get guns off the street and when they try it’s just not enough.”
“Kids are killing kids. New York City just isn’t safe anymore and any time you see something about gun violence it’s always in the Bronx and Brooklyn — they’re going crazy with the guns. No one wants to fight with their fists anymore.”
The fear frustrates Mayor Adams, who on Wednesday railed that prosecutors aren’t doing enough to those busted with guns behind bars.
“I feel like I’m in an alternate reality,” Adams said at Lincoln Hospital, where a police officer was treated after he was shot in the arm on Tuesday by Rameek Smith, who was free awaiting sentencing in a 2020 gun case. Smith died in a gunfire exchange with police.
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“We took 2,600 guns off our streets, and the shooters of those guns are back on our streets just like this person,” the mayor said.
Adams’ frustration was echoed Thursday by a police union. The Lieutenants Benevolent Association released data on shooting suspects, and laid blame for the problems on what they feel are failings of the city’s district attorneys.
“Due to DAs refusing to prosecute criminals and the legislators passing criminal friendly legislation, there is apparently no accountability nor repercussions,” lieutenants’ union president Lou Turco wrote in a letter to his members. “So, criminals are quickly released from custody and simply go out and retrieve another illegal gun and the cycle starts again.”
But the lieutenants’ complaint that prosecutors won too few gun convictions in 2021 didn’t consider that many cases brought last year have yet to be decided. It routinely takes up to two years to bring a criminal case to trial — and often, DA’s offices decline to pursue cases because arresting officers don’t present enough evidence to support the charges.
“We’re making a historic amount of arrests in regards to guns,” said Turco.
“Summer is coming,” said Bronx resident Webb. “No one uses their fists anymore and there’s a lot of guns. So more people out in the street equals more violence.”
With Noah Goldberg