Members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee left Washington and traveled to New York City on Monday for a field hearing on “Victims of Violent Crime in Manhattan.” The Republican-led committee called the meeting to highlight what they claim are the city’s “pro-crime, anti-victim” policies. The exercise was mostly an attempt to portray New York City as crime ridden and dangerous in order to discredit Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg after the indictment of former President Donald Trump.
The reality in New York is more complex than the picture of a “crime crisis” Judiciary Republicans tried to paint. Like cities across the country, New York City experienced a real and devastating spike in gun violence during the first years of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, shootings nearly doubled compared to 2019. And in Manhattan, shooting incidents jumped 118 percent between 2019 and 2021. Homicides saw a similar increase.
Even with the spike in violence in 2020 and 2021, Manhattan and New York City both had low homicide rates compared to other parts of the country. It doesn’t ameliorate the very real damage done by violence, but Manhattan’s homicide rate of 4.8 per 100,000 was 38 percent lower than the national average in 2021. The city’s overall homicide rate was about 30 percent below the national average. Manhattan looks even safer when compared to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan’s home state of Ohio, which had a homicide rate of 8.6 per 100,000.
Of course, Bragg only took office in January 2022, so blaming him for spikes in violence in 2020 and 2021 makes little sense. Since mid-2022, shootings and other violent crimes have been on the decline in the city. So far this year, citywide shooting incidents are down 23 percent, shooting victimizations are down 21 percent, hate crimes are down 41 percent, and murder is down 6.6 percent — compared to the same time period last year. Rape and burglary are also down. Manhattan itself has seen a similar decrease in shootings and most violent crimes, though murders are flat compared to last year.
But it would also be a mistake to give Bragg credit for the decline since 2022. He’s one of five elected district attorneys in New York City and is part of a much broader public safety system, including a police department he does not control. And some other crimes, like felony assault, are up compared to last year. But it’s clear that the committee’s focus on him — and on New York City — is mostly misplaced. The city isn’t back to the record-low rates of violence it was experiencing before the pandemic, and gun violence remains an issue, but the committee’s crime crisis claim is far from accurate.
What To Know Today
In Dadeville, Alabama, residents of the small town are mourning after four people were killed and 32 others injured at a Sweet 16 party Saturday. There have been no arrests so far and officials have released few details about the shooting, aside from the identities of the victims. Among them was a star high school football player. [AL.com]
“Gun grabber:” That’s how a recent ad from a political group aligned with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis described former President Donald Trump, as the fight between the two likely front runners for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination heats up. [Bloomberg] Context: The ad targeted Trump for backing red flag laws in 2019 after a series of mass shootings.
Ralph Yarl, a 16-year-old Kansas City, Missouri, student who was shot last week after going to the wrong house to pick up his younger brothers, has been released from the hospital and is recovering at home, according to his father. The homeowner who allegedly shot Ralph faces felony assault and armed criminal action charges. [The Kansas City Star]
**Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, a Democrat, vetoed a bill that would encourage elementary and middle schools in the state to participate in the Eddie Eagle program, an NRA-developed child gun safety curriculum. Kelly said the bill was an “act of legislative overreach” and an attempt “to insert partisan politics” into education. [Kansas Reflector]
A Walgreens employee is claiming self-defense after shooting a pregnant 24-year-old woman in the store’s parking lot last week in Nashville, Tennessee. The employee fired his gun because he “was in fear” after following the woman outside for allegedly shoplifting, according to police. The woman and her baby remain hospitalized. [USA TODAY] Context: In 2021, Tennessee became the 19th state to adopt permitless carry.
Kentucky politicians took $232,344 from gun rights organizations’ PACs over the past 10 years. Most of the cash went to Republican politicians, who have opposed gun reform and continue to oppose stricter gun laws in the wake of the April 10 mass shooting at a bank in downtown Louisville. [Lexington Herald-Leader]
A red flag bill in Tennessee died in the state’s General Assembly, just two days after the Republican Governor Bill Lee requested an Extreme Risk Protection Order law following the shooting at The Covenant School. The bill was sponsored by Democrats and died without a committee hearing. Meanwhile, other gun bills could come up for a vote this week. [Daily Memphian/WZTV Nashville]
Academic Who Helped Design the NRA’s Child Gun Safety Program Says the Group Is Misusing It: The NRA promotes its Eddie Eagle program to elementary schools around the country, and pushes state legislatures to pass laws that require schools to adopt the lesson. But an academic who helped design the curriculum told The Trace that it was never intended to be a substitute for safe storage laws. (October 2016)