New York City Mayor Eric Adams, facing severe pressure to address a growing crisis of gun violence, announced an ambitious public safety plan in what the New York Times says has quickly become a pivotal moment in his first weeks in office. In a speech three days after a police officer was killed in Manhattan, Adams called for immediate changes to add police officers to city streets to remove guns, and for help from the courts and state lawmakers in the months ahead. “We will not surrender our city to the violent few,” Adams said. His plan included the restoration of an anti-gun police unit, and he called on state lawmakers to make a number of changes, including to the state law and to a law that altered how the state handles teenage defendants. “I want to be clear: This is not just a plan for the future — it is a plan for right now,” the mayor said. “Gun violence is a public health crisis. There is no time to wait.”
Gun violence rose sharply during the pandemic, as historic lows gave way to the highest number of shootings in a decade. The murder total approached 500 in 2021. The totals were far from the worst days in the early 1990s, but they fueled fears that helped propel Adams to a victory last year with a promise to improve safety. The spate of high-profile shootings, including four incidents in which police officers were wounded this year, has continued to change the tenor of criminal justice discussions and policy. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said he would aggressively prosecute gun-related crimes, including possession — a seeming response to pushback against his adoption of lenient policies upon taking office. He said during his campaign last year that he would avoid prosecuting people for gun possession unless they were actually involved in violent crime.