Emily Bazelon in NYT: NYC Needs More Illegal Handguns on the Street
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Here’s a pretty classic “Who? Whom?” op-ed from the Bazelon Legal Dynasty, relentlessly working to get more black males shot by other black males for three generations now.

New York City during the 12 year mayorship of crime-fighting billionaire Michael Bloomberg offered a spectacular success story for gun control by aggressively stopping and frisking young punks for illegal handguns. Pretty soon, carrying an illegal handgun was seen by the more murderous classes as a ticket to prison, so New York City homicide rates fell much further than almost anyone had anticipated.

On the other hand, the Bloomberg NYPD targeting the most likely murderers had severe adverse impact on black criminals, just as it had wonderful beneficial impact on those who would have been murdered by black criminals.

De Blasio is vastly more liberal. But he’s not a Bazelon-level fool, so he appointed Giuliani’s old police chief Bill Bratton, and has kept up trying to jail guys carrying illegal handguns.

De Blasio Doesn’t Get It. Not Everyone Who Carries a Gun Is a Shooter.

A model Brooklyn program to keep young people out of jail runs afoul of the mayor and the police.

By Emily Bazelon
Ms. Bazelon, a staff writer at The New York Times Magazine, is the author of “Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration.”

July 11, 2019

Mayor Bill de Blasio took a break from his long-shot presidential campaign this week to attack a program in Brooklyn that keeps young people who’ve been convicted of having an unlicensed gun out of prison. It was a strange move. Brooklyn’s diversion program is doing good, not harm, the evidence shows. It’s an effort the mayor could showcase on the national stage, an example of the city’s success at incubating reforms.

But at a news conference on Monday, Mr. de Blasio sounded anything but visionary.

The trouble started when the New York Police Department chief, Terence Monahan, suggested at the same gathering that the blame for a rise in shootings so far this year lay with plea deals in Brooklyn “that result in little or no jail time.” It’s true that a small fraction of young people charged with illegal gun possession in Brooklyn — but not for shooting anyone or even brandishing a gun — are accepted into a yearlong program, run by the office of District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, called Youth and Communities in Partnership, or Y.C.P. Participants meet weekly with a social worker, adhere to a curfew, and must work or take classes and complete dozens of hours of community service. If they graduate from the program, they are spared prison and the burden of a felony record.

In other words, the new program in Brooklyn gives you one Get Out of Jail Free card for carrying an illegal handgun. It’s not like there’s a law against felony murder, is there?

Y.C.P. offers a narrow escape hatch from New York’s punitive gun laws, which are among the harshest in the country. The state imposes a 3½-year mandatory minimum prison sentence for people who are convicted of the maximum charge for possessing a loaded gun without a license. In some states, possessing a gun without a permit isn’t even a crime. Other states treat the offense as a misdemeanor or make exceptions for having an unlicensed gun in one’s home. But in New York, gun control has taken a form that includes mandatory prison sentences.

The New York Police Department has long credited “Guns = Prison,” as the slogan goes, for much of New York’s amazing crime drop. And it is amazing: Crime has fallen steeply in New York over a quarter century, to a level not seen since the 1950s. In 1990, there were 2,245 killings in the city. In 2018, there were fewer than 300. …

Y.C.P. started in 1997, in partnership with some Brooklyn churches, out of a recognition that “not everyone who carries a gun is a shooter,” as Anthony Newerls, who runs a violence-prevention program in Brownsville, told me. “In many cases, we see the carrier is carrying the gun for someone else.”

What’s so bad about handing the gun to the trigger-puller as long as you don’t pull the trigger yourself?

… To reduce and someday end mass incarceration, the country is very much in need of models like this one. But Mayor de Blasio doesn’t get it. …

Emily Bazelon is a staff writer at the Magazine and the Truman Capote Fellow for Creative Writing and Law at Yale Law School. She is also a best-selling author and a co-host of the “Slate Political Gabfest,” a popular podcast. @emilybazelon • Facebook

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