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Democrats Strategy Shift: Little New Gun Control, More Police Spending

After a mass shooting on a Brooklyn subway train last week, New York City Mayor Eric Adams vowed to double the number of subway cops. He had already sent an additional 1,000 officers below ground in February, in response to reports of crimes on the subway, to patrol platforms and expel homeless people from the transit system. Adams’s deference to more policing as a salve for gun violence may stem from his own history as a police officer, but it also fits him into a pattern evident in the national Democratic Party. Where Democrats once reacted to gun violence — especially mass shootings — by calling for stricter firearms regulations, today they are increasingly turning to greater funding for the police, The Intercept reports.

The shootings at Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012; a Las Vegas music festival in 2017; aa Parkland, Fl., high school in 2018; and a spa in Atlanta last year were all followed by calls for more robust gun control at the state and federal levels. Now, after recent spikes in gun violence, national and local lawmakers have prioritized funding for law enforcement. New York already has stricter gun laws than many other states and has invested millions to trace illegal guns, creating a political environment where new gun restrictions are less politically feasible. On the federal level, attempts at gun regulation remain lacking, Bills to increase police spending have a better chance of moving through Congress. Democrats blamed progressive party members who favor broader police reform for risking midterm chances and alienating voters. The White House 2023 budget includes $32 billion in police spending, including more officers “on the beat for accountable community policing,” efforts to stem gun trafficking, researching gun violence as a public health crisis, and expanding community violence intervention. Democrats are working on another bill to increase police funding. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) introduced the Invest to Protect Act to provide $200 million over five years to departments with fewer than 200 officers: the majority of police departments. The measure outlines investments in de-escalation training, body cameras, recruitment efforts, and mental health resources for officers.

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