NEW YORK — The state’s effort to limit the flow of illegal guns into New York is showing results, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Wednesday, and fewer New Yorkers are being shot this year than last.
At an appearance with the mayor of New York City, which has suffered a rising violent crime rate since the onset of the pandemic, Hochul said 6,007 illegal firearms were seized statewide by police agencies from January through July, 20% more than in the same seven months of 2021.
Also in the same seven months, there were 11% fewer gunfire incidents resulting in injury this year than in 2021 in communities that are part of a state-led gun violence initiative.
“I tell you those numbers, not in the context that this is satisfactory, but I’m sure glad it’s down 10% down, 11%, as opposed to up 10% or up 11%,” Hochul said.
Progress is relative.
While shootings are down from 2021, they are still far above the five-year average of 2017-2021: 25.7% more people suffered not-fatal gunshot wounds and 51.8% more people were shot to death in the first seven months of this year than the average for the preceding five years.
The statistics are based on reports from police in 20 cities, towns and counties participating in New York state’s Gun Involved Violence Elimination initiative.
Locally, the Albany, Schenectady and Troy police departments are among the participants, and results are very mixed:
- Albany has had more shooting incidents but fewer total victims this year than last — in other words, more people shot individually but fewer groups of people shot at the same time.
- Schenectady has had fewer shootings in 2022, even factoring in a very violent July.
- The number of people shot in Troy in the first seven months of 2022 is double the same period of 2021 and more than double the five-year average.
Wednesday’s announcement was the latest in a series of gun violence announcements by Hochul, who is taking flak in her election campaign over the rise in violent crime during the pandemic.
She typically focuses on placing more restrictions on legal gun ownership or on seizing illegal guns, and avoids mention of arresting and jailing the people breaking gun laws, just as her Republican critics call for jailing suspected criminals rather than making the tools of their crimes harder to access.
“We are now working across borders,” Hochul said Wednesday, “getting guns out off the streets and keeping people safe because my philosophy is: I’d rather be in the crime prevention business than the crime solving business.”
Hochul’s news conference came before Wednesday’s meeting of the Interstate Task Force on Illegal Guns, which was formed earlier this year to fight the trafficking of guns.
It is showing results, Hochul said: New York State Police alone seized 1,468 guns in the last 12 months, a 140% increase over the same period a year earlier and the most ever in the history of the agency.
Steven Dettelbach, director of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, praised the task force. “You are truly national and international leaders in trying to be smart and aggressive on this problem,” he said, adding that he promotes it as an example for other governments.
The 20 police departments participating in the state GIVE initiative use evidence-based strategies to reduce shootings, and will benefit from $18.2 million allocated from the initiative in the 2022-2023 state budget.
Collectively, the 20 police departments that are part of GIVE reported 636 shooting incidents resulting in one or more people wounded in the first seven months of this year, down 11% from the same period of last year but 25.7% higher than the five-year average for those months.
New York City, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the violent crime in New York state and operates the nation’s largest municipal police force, is not part of GIVE.
Local GIVE statistics for Jan. 1-July 31, 2022:
- Albany police reported 45 shooting incidents (12.5% higher than last year, 21% higher than the five-year average); 48 people were shot, six fatally.
- Schenectady police reported 10 shootings (16.7% lower than last year, 11% higher than average); 11 people were shot, two fatally.
- Troy police reported 18 shootings (63.6% more than last year, 125% more than average); 22 people were shot, three fatally.