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.

Comments: 213

  1. I saw the video on the news of one of these young men loading a weapon while riding the subway and smiling the whole time. I found it totally terrifying. What can anyone do if that young man decides to start shooting? Nothing. Law abiding citizens have been denied any means to defend themselves and police cannot be everywhere at all times. Add to that, police have been limited by politicians for conducting searches. Go ask people or family members affected by gun violence how do they feel about the Y.C.P. program. It's easy to defend something that hasn't affected you personally. Gun laws in NYC should apply to all the same way, there should not be "special" deals because the gun wasn't operable at the time or simply because nobody was shot. If you take away the fear of incarceration for gun possessions, we can only expect more gun violence and victims.

  2. @BR This response reads as if the writer failed to actually read the column. The participants in the program did not utilize the guns for violence, thats the point. The program is clearly trying to reach them before they use the guns in a violent manner. The response is reflexive, incarceration being the only response in the wrier’s eyes, even as evidence says that is dead wrong.

  3. @Chuck Massoud-Tastor When it comes to possession of illegal guns there is no evidence that says prison is "dead wrong". Between the virtual elimination of Stop and Frisk and this program you're going to have crime stats resembling NYC in the sixties/seventies.

  4. @Buddy Badinski this program has been around for 20 years, Buddy, and crime is still going down. Try again.

  5. Thank you for calling attention to this innovative diversionary program. One wonders how many more productive people we would have and how many fewer would be incarcerated if all young people in need of greater structure and support received it. Instead, as a society, we are content with the status quo ante because it is seen as easier and cheaper to allow a certain number of throw-away lives. After all, they made a choice didn't they? As for the mayor, it is often the case that bad policy results from a candidate's need to project an image instead of a solution. And that's all you need to know about how we got a draconian crime bill in the 1990s that jump-started mass incarceration.

  6. I find it odd that the NYT and social justice warriors are trying so hard to develop sympathy for criminals and to make it appear that criminals are actually victims. In reality, it is those against whom crimes are committed who are the true victims. I hope all Presidential candidates (and prosecutors) will give serious thought to what it means to eliminate bail, reduce sentences and allow convicted criminals to run loose in our communities. Who is responsible for post-release crimes committed by those not sent to jail or released early? An apology to their future victims will be of small consolation for those who are harmed; how about sympathy, compensation and restitution for victims? Early release or release without bail of thousands of criminals is a recipe for increased crime, and increased numbers of victims. Virtually no criminals are forced to commit their crimes; there is such a thing as free will. It's simple: Just don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

  7. Your arguments might be persuasive if there were any evidence that they are correct. But the evidence points to the conclusion that they are without any foundation at all, as Bazelon points out in her column.

  8. You lose credibility by classifying this program as a work of social justice warriors. This program is for the good of society as a whole. It is an opportunity to help people who may have been on a path of antisocial and criminal behavior move to a path of productiveness and good. That helps everyone. Unless you own stock in the prison industry, I am baffled by your apparent disregard for helping people become better for society.

  9. @Mon Ray But bail is something that affects even those who haven't been convicted.

  10. The mayor seems to have calculated that it's politically expedient to oppose the program and to support incarceration of those who violate the gun laws. Perhaps he's concerned about his support from rank-and-file cops or the police commissioner as he lurches forward with his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. Maybe he wants to stay in the race long enough to raise some more cash for his campaign coffers, for some future run for higher office. What a shame. As Ms. Bazelon writes in compelling fashion, the program is a success - whereas incarceration, at least in this area, isn't.

  11. While I am sympathetic towards the program discussed by Ms. Bazelon as innovative and low impact on the wider community, the drop in homicides since the early 1990's had nothing to do with any legislation. In NY, the US and western democracies across the world homicides with firearms were already declining since the 1990's when many of gun control laws were enacted, and continued to decline at the same rate (=no effect of the new legislation). Not licensing, registration, restrictions on firearm types or draconian sentencing for mere possession of a firearm have been responsible for the observed decline. Other factors have been at play such as socioeconomic or better policing at the community level. When we figure this out maybe there can be relief for law-abiding gun owners from New York's restrictive, unconstitutional, gun laws as well as for those who have broken the law, but have not committed any violent crime.

  12. @MIchael Lesser So the very low rate of of gun crimes in NY (especially murder) Vs cities with very loose gun laws ( Houston, New Orleans) is based on socioeconomic factors? Cities like Chicago have allegedly strict gun laws on the books but they don't enforce them like NYC. States with strict and enforced gun laws have far lower gun crime rates than those that allow all that wonderful "legal" ownership. I suggest you look that up.

  13. You are so wrong. Rudy Giuliani came into office as mayor of New York after David Dinkins. Rudy instituted the Broken Windows theory of policing immediately thereafter. The murder rate in NYC plummeted. You can line up Rudy’s start date and the murder rate dropping like a rock. It’s crystal clear. Bloomberg continued the Broken Windows policy. And the murder rate went down 90 percent from the peak under Dinkins. Yes, down 90 percent. No other major city in the USA had anything like it, as far as I’ve ever seen.

  14. This column cannot stand in for a full evaluation of the program. It sounds like a worthwhile program though. What I want to point out is the juxtaposition of this column with the news about Epstein: It compares the heinous acts of a wealthy man versus a violation of a law by common people where nobody got hurt. It compares the justice system for a wealthy man versus the system for everyone else. In this light, I am glad there is a second chance program for these young people. We need to think about other methods besides prison for reform. However, Epstein clearly belongs in jail.

  15. I prefer the approach of the Detroit Chief of Police. It actually works. It is the opposite of the NYC police, which patently does not work. He encourages legal possession and use of firearms. He goes to scenes of legal defensive shootings and holds press conferences, meant to deter armed invasions of occupied homes, and such. It has worked. Two or three dead armed robbers, followed by the Police Chief's praise at press conferences. and the whole crime trend dropped off. You don't want to believe it? Tough. It's true whether you believe it or not.

  16. @Mark Thomason Please show the data and research to support your argument that Chief Craig's views and actions regarding gun ownership are linked to reduced crime. I'm not from Detroit, but the murder rate there was declining before he became police chief, and has continued to decline, if perhaps a bit more slowly (depending on the baseline year you choose) during his term. I'd like to know that "It's true whether you believe it or not" is supported by evidence. Perhaps there's data on the narrower crime of home invasions? Thanks in advance for going beyond anecdote. Once we have your data, we can compare to New York City, with its strict gun laws and reduction in murders from 2245 (1990) to 289 (2018) prior to this year's increases. It seems rather casual to say New York's enforcement approach "patently doesn't work" given that information.

  17. You can thank Rudy Giuliani and the Broken Windows police enforcement for this drop. It wasn’t just the gun laws. It was the fact that the police were all over the place. Find a turnstile jumper, run his data, realize he’s skipped out from a more serious arrest warrant. This led to the “mass incarceration” - which turned NYC into the safest big city in the country. Some areas are still bad, but overall this was the safest big city in the USA. Of course, DeBlasio is doing his best to knock us back to the Bad Old Days.

  18. @A Contributor Broken windows? Deterrence? More cops? Community policing? Changing age demographics? Reduced lead poisoning? Gun control? Absence of gun control? Higher incarceration rates? Economics? Social programs? To my knowledge, none of us has a really solid explanation for why crime dropped as much as it did over the past 25 years or so -- so we all tend to overlay our own biases on the subject. I would note that New York's crime rate did begin to drop during the later days of the Dinkins administration. Which isn't to say that Giuliani and Bloomberg don't deserve credit: just to say that it's not as simple as most of us (including myself) are tempted to make it out to be.

  19. There is absolutely no reason that anyone other then law enforcement NEEDS a gun. There are exceptions to that rule when a shop owner may want to have means of protection against the robbers. In this case there are ways to apply and get a gun permit.

  20. @John R. It is extraordinarily difficult to understand that an adult cannot see that police officers leaving their work locations unarmed would be easy prey for those that they have investigated and/or arrested. Armed police officers have taken many actions while off-duty to halt crimes in progress and save lives.

  21. No one should obey unjust laws. Didn’t you learn that in the sixties?

  22. Then there is no reason that law enforcement needs a gun. Once you disarm the police the civilians will by and large disarm as well.

  23. We need to dismantle the Carceral system we have that somehow leaves us with 10 times the incarceration rate of Canada, with more than twice the homicide rate. We pat ourselves on the back for cutting our crime rate, but it still remains shockingly high compared to other western nations, despite jailing far more people. Obviously this approach isn't going to work in the long run. The idea that Americans are somehow more prone to crime than Canadians simply isn't true (And has racist overtones, when politicians speak of "Urban" crime we know who they mean). If if some areas have higher crime rates, we need to address the root causes, such as poverty, income inequality, saturation of firearms, and the war on drugs. Perhaps Europeans, Canadians, Japanese and Australians don't commit so much crime because they have fairer societies.

  24. @Ken "Perhaps Europeans, Canadians, Japanese and Australians don't commit so much crime because they have fairer societies." In part, I suppose, yes. But surely our stricter gun control and lower rate of gun ownership had plenty to do with it. At any rate, murders in the US didn't fall by more than half because the fairness of American society more than doubled. Those in search of answers should look elsewhere.

  25. @Ken saying that something “simply” is not true does not mean it is not true. It just means you are too lazy to come up with real arguments. And saying that something is racist - ditto. It’s a label, not a fact. The fact is that violent crime rates in the US are higher than anywhere in Europe or Japan and Hong Kong. Poverty has nothing to do with it. I lived in Hong Kong which has a pretty high rate of inequality. I walked alone in poor areas where I, a while woman, stood out like a sore thumb. I was never afraid. There are areas in San Francisco where I would never go alone or at all. Social factors and culture make all the difference. European and many Asian countries have a high degree of social cohesion, strong extended families, and a sense of common identity. All these are lacking in the US.

  26. So, if I am understand this correctly, to get into this program that has a lot of merit you have to break the law first by carrying a loaded gun without a license, i.e., be a danger to your community. This seems to be a reward for law breaking, not a punishment for law breaking. If you are going to go down this road, why not do this for every convicted felon? Give them a program instead of prison time. If the crime rate has declined this much, then the smartest thing is to keep doing what you are doing. Keep the program, but make it available to everyone in NYC, regardless of age. If it truly is effective it will prevent young people from breaking the law. But breaking laws should result in negative consequences. Otherwise, why should anybody obey any laws?

  27. Carrying a gun may be illegal there but it is certainly not a danger to the community. In fact, it might be what is making the community as safe as it is.

  28. If there were good community policing with the resources to make communities safe, young guys wouldn't need to carry for protection. Criminalizing citizens need to protect themselves via the second amendment is nuts. Two thirds of murders unsolved? That's a big red flag right there, people don't cooperate because they view the police as the enemy, not a protector. When will NYC get it's stuff together and protect all its citizens?

  29. I live in Harlem. Just two weeks ago, in broad daylight, a man was shot to death at a bodega that I frequent daily. Programs like YCP are great. But as you cite in your own article, more guns on the streets=more dead men, women, and children. Deterrence works. Why would you suggest loosening gun laws in this day in age? The opposite will just result in more dead people of color in NYC.

  30. @Thucydides What makes you say that deterrence works? By construction, none of the people convicted of gun possession here were deterred.

  31. @Thucydides We’re not calling for loosening the guns laws. The people who lack licenses are arrested and face jail time. But instead of sending them away, we take away their guns, and get them the rehabilitation and support they need.

  32. Because the city is full of guns used for protection by people who do not shoot up bodegas. The problem here is the criminal subculture that has been created by a broken economy and discriminatory laws. The police should concentrate on controlling criminals and not merely going after guns which are mostly used by law abiding people. And by criminals I mean the white collar criminals who do the most damage.

  33. Another attempt to have it both ways. Young people in dangerous neighborhoods and social situations made a rational judgement that the risk of significant punishment for carrying a gun illegally was less than the risk of being unarmed. So gun carrying increased and death rates and wounding rates among young people living in certain areas increased and cries of anguish rose from the elders of those communities. Now the punishment for illegal carrying is harsh and just maybe the death rate will decrease as carrying decreases and those who carry are taken off of the streets.

  34. Why not work on decreasing the crime rate and ignore the people who carry a gun for protection now? When the crime rate goes down they will leave their guns at home.

  35. One only needs to look at Chicago where carrying guns ( and often using them) virtually never results in jail time to see how effective New York's very tough laws are. You really want people to sympathize with people who “In many cases, we see the carrier is carrying the gun for someone else.”? Really they should not go to prison because they only carried the gun for a potential shooter" Another absurd claim in this article is that gun permits would reduce crime more than jail time. New York has very, very stringent laws for gun permits just as it has very, very stringent laws for carrying guns illegally. Both help to keep crime very low in NY.

  36. Chicago has very strict gun laws and they have not deterred the level of violence. The violence in Chicago is a function of both police and political corruption that has proved impossible to control. The most effective way to end violence in Chicago is to disarm the police.

  37. @Bobotheclown Had you bothered to read my comment you would know that UNLIKE NY Chicago does NOT enforce it's "strict gun laws" what sets NY apart from virtually ever other city is that if you are caught with an unlicensed gun ( and licenses are VERY hard to get) you go to jail PERIOD. The writer thinks this is unfair to young people who don't actually "use" the guns but here in NY we don't care if you are young person, and NBA star or veteran passing through town. get caught with a gun, you go to jail and that is a key (but not the only reason) we have a low crime rate. Chicago should try it.

  38. @Jessica Be grateful your neighbor is not Indiana

  39. Please, DA Gonzalez, listen to this writer. Resist the political whims (and classic inch-deep thinking) of this mayor. Give kids a chance through YCP and work to strengthen the resources for these kids after they leave the program. Expunging their record forever if they succeed, too. That makes everyone safe and gives these kids a chance.

  40. I understand the support for mandatory-minimum sentences for some crimes; I once supported them myself. But I have also been a criminal defense lawyer for over 30 years, and that experience has led me to oppose mandatory-minimum sentences, especially for non-violent crimes like gun possession. What such laws do is to remove discretion from judges and hand it to prosecutors. Prosecutors can pretty much determine how much time the defendant will serve by deciding which charges to bring. That is one of the main drivers of our mass incarceration system. Simply labeling someone as a criminal is a way to stop thinking about them as people. Especially when you are talking about the young people who are eligible for this program, you have to consider the lives these young men (and, yes, they are almost all males) have lived. Many, if not most, have had no productive male role models. Many are functionally illiterate as a result of inadequate schools. And many, based on what they see around them, believe that they are unlikely to live past their 20's. Programs like this give them skills and hope previously unavailable to them. And they help all of us by helping to create a productive citizen. And before anyone writes a snarky reply telling me that I don't understand what it's like to be a crime victim, please know that I have been mugged four time. In one, a knife was held to my throat. And I still oppose draconian sentencing.

  41. @cds333 I agree with this comment. I would point out that the impact of these laws falls almost entirely on black and brown youth, and is part of our long history of facially neutral laws that, whether by design or not, have a disproportionate impact on minority communities

  42. Unfortunately our gun laws are an incomprehensible mosaic of laws which fail in their mission to deter gun violence. What we need is FEDERAL GUN CONTROL which requires that all guns be issued Certificates of Title like with cars, that they be Federally registered, and that gun owners be required to maintain liability insurance with high deductibles to indemnify people harmed by their guns. Limit the number of guns that people may own to some reasonable number. Like with cars, require prospective gun owners to demonstrate proficiency and mental competence plus impose strict, vicarious liability upon gun owners for their direct or otherwise negligent conduct in connection with their guns. As far as bullets go, the eggs I buy are imprinted with a traceable code. Do that with bullets so we know who is buying them and in what quantity. This will not eliminate all gun violence but it will cut it back and provide at least some compensation for victims. As far as I can see, none of this in any way conflicts with that pesky 2d Amendment which would, of course, stay in full force and effect. What we have now, a patchwork of gun legislation in 50 states, is ineffectual. You can still get a gun in a state with lax firearms laws and take it anywhere you want. If states, to meet their own needs, want to impose laws that are more stringent than the Feds, like with booze and drugs, fine.

  43. @MIKEinNYC As a gun collector, hunter, target shooter, licensed concealed carry permit holder and federally licensed gun dealer I would like to know how limiting the number of firearms one may own will have any impact on crime associated with firearms. In my experience those that own many firearms are more law abiding than the general public. Where is the proof that what you propose will have any affect other than infringing on the rights of gun owners?

  44. @MIKEinNYC How will any of your suggestions cut back on gun violence? Criminals committing crimes with guns would not submit to requirements for registration, or demonstration of competency, or buying bullets that are marked. These rules just make it difficult for people who use guns safely and legally to use their guns, and thus antagonizes those people whose help one needs to eliminate the gun violence problem. You said it correctly in your first sentence: "Unfortunately our gun laws are an incomprehensible mosaic of laws which fail in their mission to deter gun violence." More gun laws will not change that.

  45. You guys are pros at circular argument. Too bad reality goes around too, and smacks your arguments in the face. Federal Gun laws would result in many fewer gun laws, consistently, effectively enforced. Easy to live with and reliable. The criminals you-all love to eviscerate get their guns from somewhere. Some law-abiding, fully licensed gun shop owner is selling them by the bushel to whoever has the bucks to buy. You always fail to acknowledge that your crazy approach to gun regulation resulted in a swamp filled to the brim with untracked weapons, there for the taking. Despite your existence on a plane of legal probity unknown to the rest of mankind, gun owners shoot themselves and each other in Walmart, charge after citizens going about their days because they looked guilty or gun-guy "felt threatened', leave guns lying around front porches, car seats, nightstands, kitchens. Sometimes these excellent people get angry. drunk, offended and seek armed relief. Frankly, I'd rather see more gun laws than more guns, and yet we crank them out by the tens of thousands. What do you think is going to happen? As to your complaint that responsible regulation is an unbearable burden, well, too bad. Its part of the deal. Here's an easy one: microstamp every round fired, match it to the gun that fired it and the person who owns it, keep that data in one place, where law enforcement at every level can access it at will. No microstamp? No more gun. No burden there. Thoughts?

  46. Gun control is rediculous. What is needed is a National Firearms Licence the holder of which is permited to buy and own a firearm and ammunition. This should consist of several tiers of expertise that requires a background check, classes, and firing range time in order to obtain it. Tier one for basic hunting rifles, Tier two for handguns, Tier 3 for specialized weapons that can be used in licenced gun clubs, Tier 4 for operationg those clubs.

  47. How is it possible that in the "greatest country in the world" anyone needs to carry a gun? From the perspective of someone living in the developed world, the perceived need to carry a weapon means the U.S. is not ready to join the club of civilized states.

  48. @Barry Thucydides would agree with you.

  49. We aren’t talking about needs here, we are talking about punishments. People in this greatest of all countries have a lot of different needs, for example, some people have a need to preach to others about how we should all behave to be considered civilized. In many societies such behavior is seen as rude or even barbaric. But as you say, it is all a matter of perspective.

  50. "Y. C. P. offers a narrow escape hatch from New York’s punitive gun laws, which are among the harshest in the country." Well, good, I'm for anything that makes America better for our people == programs or legislation or volunteers, whatever. But in no way does the country have 'harsh' gun laws. That is ridiculous. Our gun laws are practically nonexistent. And carrying a gun may not make you a shooter, but not carrying one certainly eliminates that possibility.

  51. @JessiePearl You do realize that gun laws in the United Sates vary by locality don't you? For example, New York City has extremely tough gun laws compared to most of the rest of the country and getting a handgun license is quite difficult, not to mention the different levels of license for different allowable carry permits. Likewise, the penalties for illegally carrying a firearm are severe in NYC (hence the point of the Op-Ed). So the gun laws here are definitely "harsher" than in Tennessee or most of the nation!

  52. However, New York DOES have harsh gun laws. Check them out ... it’s a really bad state for personal ownership of anything other than a squirt gun. New Jersey is about the same.

  53. This is (really) about - civil government failing to adopt a comprehensive strategy - community apathy - ineffective/absent parenting - gang culture and yet, the penalty for possessing a gun is the chosen target. Brooklyn is not the backwoods and the possession of firearms by young urban teens is a serious issue. Ms. Bazelon compares killing rates from 30 years ago with 2018 to deftly suggest that 300 such deaths is rather OK; that's a loaded Boeing 777 crashing every year, not so OK. While I appreciate her compassion and concern, if gun possession with the intent to brandish or use it against another person, especially in an urban environment, isn't grounds for serious action then no one is safe.

  54. @Eric Lamar The use of a gun for personal injury half a century ago was unheard of, in most situations. Bars existed, people got drunk, but no one went home to get a gun and come back to settle the situation, nor went to their car for a gun. Now we have high profile sports and entertainment people who almost assuredly have a gun ON them (and shoot themselves on occasion), or their posse of hangers on and body guards have guns on them, even in night clubs and other supposedly sterile environments. The shift in lack of respect for another person, the lack of integrity to be wrong and admit it, or have the slow process of the law administering justice, has allowed people of age of majority or less, to take matters into their own hands. I have no solution, but recognize the facts. Guns are used, but are not the entire problem. And while registration and background checks and all those much discussed methods to slow down the spread of guns to those who should not have access, the great unanswered problem that no reasonable solution has been suggested is what to do with the literally millions of guns in American who's existence is completely unknown.

  55. @reid Guns aren't the problem so much as our culture surrounding them is. There are many countries that have high levels of firearm ownership, but nowhere close to the amount of gun crime we see in the United States. Switzerland and Israel spring immediately to mind. The issue isn't that so many Americans are armed, the issue is that so many Americans see their firearms as toys to be played with, rather than as weapons designed for killing, to be handled carefully. Something shifted in our culture in the last 35 years or so. It makes me think of the line from Friday, when the dad is talking about fighting, and sometimes losing. "Back in the day" as you said, people fought, someone won and someone lost, and then everyone went home. Why does every fight today have to be to the death?

  56. Most people who carry a gun do it for self protection. What about them?

  57. Our dear Mayor is just pandering and floundering, two things he seems to do pretty well. Can't wait to be rid of him although it's hard to believe anyone outside NYC will want to hire him so we'll be stuck with him in some capacity forever.

  58. I wonder if not facing any penalty for minor infractions might make young people think they can also escape punishment for more serious crimes? And, a person carrying a loaded gun may not intend to use it, but wouldn't the likelihood of using it increase in some circumstances, like if the person was confronted by someone else? And, if both of those persons had guns, wouldn't the chance of a shooting increase? And, what about otherwise "law-abiding citizens" who become shooters just because of the proximity of gun when they are involved in for example, a road rage incident, a domestic event, an argument at a bar? All these are examples of actual shootings that have been reported in the news. Maybe a death over a driving incident would have been avoided if a gun had not been in a car. Maybe a spouse would still be alive if a gun had not been in the house. Many injuries and deaths from guns are caused by people who never intended to shoot anyone, but had a weapon on them. I don't think possessing a loaded gun should be overlooked as a minor crime. Part of the function of law enforcement is to protect the public from potential harm. It's starting to be more and more scary to be in public places, and I'd like to know that people walking around in public with loaded guns they shouldn't have will be removed from the public. Punishing people for carrying loaded weapons in public sends a message that the public's safety matters, and it's a message that matters to people like me.

  59. @Ms. Pea How did you come up with "not receiving any penalty". Please read the article again, focusing on: "It’s true that a 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, must work or take classes and complete dozens of hours of community service." This appears to be much more conducive to redirection toward becoming a productive member of society than prison.

  60. @Ms. Pea Right because it's the young brown and black teenagers who are committing all these mass shootings. put all of them in jail, meanwhile the white people who actively work to support the NRA and eliminate gun control get to go home, put on the news, and crow about how gun laws are too tough except when they work to mass incarcerate young people of color. Also, people don't seem to understand that if these kids fail these programs they get up to 15 years incarceration. the writer should have done a better job explaining this.

  61. The rest of the country faces no consequences for minor infractions and it does not seem to have made young people think they can commit serious crimes, so what is so different about the people in NYC? Perhaps the people you are talking about are of a different race than you? So they are obviously more inclined to criminal behavior than people of your race? Yes, we all see the... logic... of your argument.

  62. I'm sorry, but I actually agree with Mayor DeBlasio on this one. I am a retired military officer and a gun owner. And I know that should I be caught passing through New York with handgun legally owned in my home state, I will be hammered by New York authorities. Young people caught carrying guns on the streets of New York may not be shooters ... yet. But I will not have any sympathy for them as long as law-abiding gun owners are harassed by New York.

  63. But you wouldn’t be harassed if you were a law abiding gun owner with a NYS permit. If you came in packing without a permit, you would, by definition, not be law abiding. Hence, your comment makes no sense.

  64. That attitude is ok if you are passing through NYC. But if you had to live there in a dangerous neighborhood every day you would be carrying that gun.

  65. This is an almost perfect example of de Blasio's fatal flaw as a political figure: the internal tension between his wish to be seen as a brave progressive driven by moral vision, and his natural instinct to defer to powerful constituencies... which wins out pretty much every single time. All it takes is the police--or the real estate lobby or any union, the two constituencies to which he owes his entire political viability--to express a strong view, and he goes along. I think it's this, at least as much as his personal insufferability and transparent contempt for the media who cover him (which is fully reciprocated), that drives how poorly he's perceived here despite some real accomplishments and the many good things going on in NYC.

  66. One way to solve the pesky problem with crime and incarceration is to eliminate rules. The link between shootings and illegal gun possession is real. If Mr. de Blasio and the police ignored this, they would be delusional rather than visionary.

  67. Of course, the simplest way to avoid being imprisoned for carrying an unlicensed handgun, is to not carry an unlicensed handgun. The author is happy to make excuses for people who break the law, but seems reluctant to suggest that they could avoid being treated like criminals by not acting like criminals.

  68. Of course the simplistic way to die in a dangerous neighborhood is to not carry a gun. And once everyone without a gun is dead the crime rate will go way down. And you will have the quiet world that you ask for.

  69. "De Blasio Doesn't Get It" Just one of many on a long list of things that the tone deaf Mayor doesn't get so why should this be any different. To those that feel unsafe traveling through New York without their licensed out of state pistol, drive around through gun friendly states only or just leave them home. Simple enough.

  70. Once again, NYPD's myopic view of law enforcement has come in the way of efforts to reduce recidivism and seek alternatives to incarceration. NYPD has consistently remained behind the pack of other municipalities across the US in adopting best practices. It is no less shocking that Mayor De Blasio would criticize the Brooklyn DA for efforts to give young men who have run afoul of the laws, a second chance. NYPD in recent years has had some of the best law enforcement leaders in the country, but remain steadfast in failing to adopt rules and regulations that can reduce recidivism, false confessions and wrongful convictions. While no fan of Gonzalez's record on wrongful convictions, he should be commended for his work on pre-trial detention, discovery, and programs such as these.

  71. "In some states, possessing a gun without a permit isn’t even a crime" I believe in most states, possessing a gun doesn't even require a permit.

  72. Mayor DeBlasio isn't the only one who conflates citizens who carry firearms with "shooters." So do police officers, who have shot and killed not only gun-carrying minorities who they perceived to be a threat, but also security guards and other uncover officers. Those who agree with Ms. Bazelon can't have it both ways: you can't argue that citizens should have the right to carry firearms anywhere or any time and then defend the police without question whenever the police shoot armed citizens "by mistake."

  73. @PhillyMensch exactly how can you avoid mistakes when handgun carrying is involved. the right to bear arms in public comes with an unaviodable risk to be mistaken for a criminal and shot under certain conditions. Is there any convincing evidence that handguns are effective weapons of self defence?

  74. Reading too many comments once again fear drives the conversation. I saw a video...., I knew a person..., the fact the author has a logical reasonable, well researched and well supported argument can't hold a candle against "I know what I know and I won't let the facts change my mind". You see the statistics and look at other peoples' stories and you quickly find out locking up everyone that scares you rarely makes you safer. We tried that, it WASN'T why crime dropped. It just meant huge resources were wasted, not the least of which was the tragic loss of the better part of a generation of young people from marginalized communities. Why would that same failed strategy work now?

  75. If not for shooting, why is there a need to carry a gun for yourself and for someone else? Self protection is a week argument for illegally carrying a gun. In some neighborhoods individual safety is threatened more than in others, These neighborhoods are usually low-income communities. It is the job of safety officers and directed programs to restore and maintain safety in all communities. If safety officers and programs are incapable of providing safety in a community, it is the failure of the system. Without addressing the root cause of problems, these arguments, whether to imprison gun holders or subject them to re-education is, at best , a band-aid solution. They are needed only as the second tier solution, after the implementation of fair access to economic and social opportunities.

  76. @Ilter iN In the mean time what do people do when the system fails and it is dangerous?

  77. @Jimd Hello, If the system fails, it is due to a collective unresponsiveness, It is then the responsibility of all of us and the safety being a public good, it largely falls on the government to provide. Debates of this sort are good as they lift the issue to its rightful urgency. De Blasio may not be right, nor the position Ms Bazelon takes. Yet, the issue is thought-over, discussed and as a result, escalated in its urgency. These are collective issues. Individual solutions, no matter how desperate the situation is, leaves the right outcomes mostly amiss. Best,

  78. "Liberals" are usually in favor of strict gun control. Now one opposes it because it sends people carrying illegal guns to jail. Very few people outside of law enforcement have a legitimate need to be armed on the street. Many gun murders result from a few harsh words (or even glances) exchanged between excitable and armed young men, feeling invincible, responding to perceived challenges. Get the guns out of their pockets, and murder becomes simple assault.

  79. @Jonathan Katz Exactly, that's what the pro gun advocates seem to ignore. Only a tiny fraction of gun murders are pre-meditated, the vast majority occur when two people are in a fight or confrontation of some kind and one pulls out a gun. Similarly, many suicides performed by guns are done before the gun is easily accessible. The argument that "Well if they want to murder someone/kill themselves they'll just do it anyway without a gun." is so absurd. While it technically COULD be true, the actual data reflects that most people won't go through with these acts if given time to really think it through. But the gun makes it so easy, that when the gun is present they don't have to think it through, they can just act first. Remove the gun and the entire situation changes. Remove the guns from the situation, and you might still wind up with criminal charges at the end, but the chances of someone being killed drop significantly.

  80. No liberal is in favor of gun control, they are in favor of gun safety and laws that create a safe and just society. No liberal is in favor of draconian punishments attached to any type of laws. Prosecutors in “liberal” cities who push mandatory sentencing are conservative no matter what party they are in and they are building an unjust society based on terror and mass incarceration. These are things that no liberal wants. In the country as a whole about half the firearms are owned by liberals who do not commit crimes and who want their rights respected. But most gun related laws are a reaction to extreme pro or extreme anti gun views. In the end it does not matter how many pockets are carrying guns, what matters is the conditions of fear in society that foster crime and the vicious cycle that keeps it going. Taking away the guns is impossible but even if it happened it would not effect crime at all. Maybe more people would sustain vicious beatings rather than being shot but that is faint praise for this approach. If you want to reduce crime then reduce the conditions that drive people to crime. The guns will disappear as the reasons for carrying them disappear. Focus on the society not the guns.

  81. where did you get the statistic that half of gun owners are liberal?

  82. Your argument is that these individuals only illegally possessed guns in NYC—the only use of which can be to shoot people or brandish them—but haven’t yet been caught shooting anyone or brandishing them? The obvious incentive effect of reducing jail time for this offense will be to make individuals considering carrying an illegal gun only more likely to do so. The program may have great benefits, but it can’t come at the expense of deterring gun violence. Add the program to the end of any jail sentence if necessary. The victims of gun violence will thank you.

  83. "In some states, possessing a gun without a permit isn’t even a crime." I believe that, in context, the author is referring minors carrying handguns. I believe that is illegal in all 50 states. "Possessing a gun without a permit" is legal in about 45 states for personds old enough to posses a gun legally.

  84. Would removing mandatory prison sentences for gun possession become an incentive for some New York residents to keep a gun in their home or even carry one for self defense? It seems that higher gun ownership could become an unintended consequence of a change in the law. A would-be gun owner might balk at prison time but might be willing to risk a lighter punishment in exchange for what they perceives as a right to self-defense.

  85. Anyone not carrying a gun is not a shooter. Anyone carrying a gun can become a shooter anytime s/he wants to. There's a huge difference.

  86. @Tom Anyone who drives a car could become someone who commits manslaughter. At the time of arrest, these kids are not known to be guilty of violent crimes. You could always make deals preventing gun ownership and mandatory gun checks be part of the deal for pre-trial diversion.

  87. @John Cars are tools of transportation, designed to move you from one place to another. If you use one improperly, you could hurt or kill someone with it, yes, but that is not their purpose. Firearms are weapons, designed for killing. If you use one PROPERLY you could hurt or kill someone with it, because that is the purpose that they are designed for. Do you see the difference?

  88. Legal or illegal, guns do kill. People in possession of them do look at problem situations as resolvable with the use of fire arms. That is why they carry them to begin with. New York City has been a model for the rest of the nation in questioning the right of people to own and carry fire arms. New Yorkers are among the most literate people in the country and understand what the Second Amendment says textually. For some people, like the author of this article, to argue that education can prevent some people who have weapons from shooting them, is to fall into the illusion that shootings can be prevented by screening people for a variety of reasons for licensing them. It does not take insanity, criminal background or gang membership to motivate ownership and proclivity to shoot. Perfectly normal adults have been known to shoot and kill when they find or invent a situation that calls for it. Without a gun they could not shoot. Period.

  89. Guns are a scourge on our nation. That much is true. But as a high-school English teacher in Brooklyn in the 70's and 80's, my experience tells me that many of my students were afraid of those mean streets. And to avoid trouble they often dressed like "perps" so as not to be victimized. I wouldn't be surprised if they might carry a gun to feel safer. I know that any gun is one too many and that they can be used to take one's own life as well as others. But I remember these kids and would hope that the YCP program would have counseling that would get to the bottom of why the young person had a gun and could deal with that situation.

  90. @Pontifikate " ...would hope that the YCP program would have counseling that would get to the bottom of why the young person had a gun..." You are talking about *mental health*. The US record on support for mental health services is about as good as it is for support for reasonable gun laws.

  91. they did not dress like perps ,perps, who generally are young & young people, of any given generation ,dress to the fashon trends

  92. "Not everyone who carries a gun is a shooter." No, maybe not. but just think of it - even a 2-year-old can shoot a loaded gun; we've often read of this kind of thing happening. So if that gun is in your pocket, and you either make a fatal mistake or you get really angry, the possibility is strong.

  93. @J.Sutton They are arrested. Their guns are taken away. But instead of sending them off to rot in jail, they are given support, job training, further education, and a chance for a better life. Re-read the article and rethink your position on this. The arrests and YCP is actually the best of both worlds.

  94. @J.Sutton Thanks for reminding us that a 2-year old shot is mother in a Walmart about a year ago. He found her gun in a "secret" compartment in her purse.

  95. Not everyone who has the ebola virus transmits it. Yet, only those who 'have' the virus can. It's the same with guns. Remove the 2nd amendment and get rid of guns.

  96. Reduce your chances of getting shot: 1. Avoid crowds. 2. Stay home at night. 3. Wear full-body armor. 4. Avoid dangerous areas. 5. Never quarrel with anyone.

  97. Anyone carrying an unlicensed firearm needs to spend time in jail. Period.

  98. When you carry a gun, you signal that there might be a situation in which you would shoot it. If you cannot ever imagine shooting a gun, do not carry one. In the meantime, if you choose to carry a gun, do not be surprised if the rest of society considers you a potential shooter.

  99. It that was the only thing that Mr. De Blasio didn't get, he might have been a passable mayor.

  100. Not everyone who carries a gun is a shooter... ...but EVERY shooter is someone who "carried a gun".

  101. The title itself says everything that you need to know about the distortion of values. Guns are killing machines. What you’re doing is a NRA hit job. They’re the ones that benefit from the idea that more guns are essential and more violence is just not their fault. It is.

  102. This article is a great example of progressive schizophrenia. They want to make it basically impossible for law abiding middle aged people to buy, own, carry guns. “Ban all guns!” New York is abysmal in its treatment of hunters and concealed carry by law abiding folk. NYC tried to make it illegal to even go to a gun range, to ban taking a legal gun in the car trunk to a lawful range for practice - and now is trying to wiggle out of the lawsuit that will come down on the city for doing so. But minority kids, caught in rough neighborhoods in possession of indisputably illegally bought, owned, and carried [hand] guns ... you want to give them a slap on the wrist and let them go free ... to do it again. And eventually shoot each other. And you wonder why Donald Trump has a 40 percent approval rate?

  103. I wouldn't worry too much about de Blasio. This was his desperate attempt to get over 0% in national presidential polls by pulling a Sister Soulja. Trouble is, it's 2019, not 1992, and that stuff went out with super-predators, D.A.R.E., and purity rings.

  104. As usual with issues like this and in general, you have the extremes getting the squeaky wheel oil. On the left, you have the bleeding heart liberals who say if somebody kills somebody with a gun in the first degree they should be given parole after 7 yrs. (that wa part of the law back in the day). On the other side you have the idea bankrupt demagogues, law and order crowd like Rudy G who says shoot first and ask questions later. People caught with unlicensed guns that are not used should be given a chance for alternative non jail punishment but subject to strict supervision. Anybody who uses an unlicensed gun in the commission of a crime should be given jail time. Any repeat offender, especially if it results in death or serious injury should be put away for a long time, life if needed.

  105. “In many cases they’re carrying the gun for someone else” “Program graduates’ rearrest rates for felonies are 22 % better” “ nyc’s gun laws are punitive “ Bazelon doesn’t seem to hear her own words undermining her. Yes it’s heart breaking to see young people caught in the maw of the prison industrial complex. But to be effective rather than just a liberal sentimentality, the interventions must happen so much earlier in the lives of young people in key neighborhoods in Brooklyn and the Bronx. Otherwise this is just liberal hand wringing and hypocritical gun rights advocacy for kids of color.

  106. I don't need a pundit to tell me that NOTHING GOOD comes from carrying around a gun, and multiply that by 10 if the gun is unlicensed. WHAT does this pundit expect us to think an unlicensed gun in a dude's pocket is there for? Show and Tell? It's one thing to have a joint in your pocket - that I can live with without anyone being arrested or even given a ticket if I had my choice but a gun? No ma'am.

  107. Watching Americans debate guns is like watching a fish thrash about in a net. A lot of energy expended; no progress.

  108. This is what happens when Democrats get antsy about their chances of getting elected president, they go after low hanging fruit (and the pun is intentional by the way) in the name of stopping crime. Biden always did it and continues to do it. Dinosaur. Poor Mayor Pete is attempting to cope with it without resorting to such grandstanding but the mindset still not eroded enough for dialog in this. Too many people are susceptible to their inner "mob" demanding "justice" and politicians feed on this like leeches. I am utterly liberal and want the NRA to go to jail and very strict gun laws put in place but eliminating this program is really only punishing more victims of the Gun Lobby. We the public are all victims of the Gun Lobby. The young people in this program are victims of the Gun Lobby. Try to remember who the bad guys really are.

  109. the only victims of the gun lobby are the victims of the thugs who use guns to kill others

  110. Most people would think that carrying a gun without a permit is tantamount to confessing to mischief, but there may be situations where the person is not as bad as the situation suggests. Like all mandatory rules in sentencing that are passed by states, it removes all discretion. A friend of mine in another state is a circuit judge and while he welcomes guidelines, is very unhappy with the mandatory guidelines which removes all his discretion when he and his staff have detected a correctable individual. It sure sounds good when windbag politicians thump the bible or whatever they thump to gain a vote, but critical thinking shows that these get-tough stances rarely work (facts pile up on this every day) and are very costly in both taxpayer finances but also in worthwhile humans time locked up in prison. I guess politicians will never learn, nor will voters who are seized by the moment thinking they are experts, also.

  111. In the early 1970's, I worked at Los Angeles Juvenile Detention. There were lots of gang killings, which we referred to as "misdemeanor murders" because a gang kid only served 18 months in prison for killing another gang kid. It was sort of considered a good thing by middle class and upper class people if they killed each other. The violence became so bad that many thousands were arrested and if their parents were from Central America, they were deported. Now Central America has uncontrolled gang violence as an American export.

  112. So a person who bought a gun legally but carries it illegally is mostly sent to prison, but a gangbanger who didn't buy it legally but carries it illegally gets a free pass? Sounds like perfect New York logic to me.

  113. Of all things to attack De Blasio on, you find he's too tough on guns. You actually cite in argument other states, where not even a permit is necessary for gun ownership. This is guns we're talking about, easy access to which is the plague of this country. And in New York City, not exactly a hunter's paradise. Yeah, having a gun doesn't mean they are a shooter at the moment; but have they been a shooter? Are they holding the gun for a shooter? If someone disrespects their girlfriend, will they be a shooter? You absolutely know you can't answer those questions. Emily, go back to worrying about Joe Biden kissing hair. This is a judgment call for De Blasio, and his position is perfectly reasonable.

  114. @Susan They're not saying legalize guns, they are saying the consequence for youth who illegally possess gun is a program of supervision and support in order to rehabilitate the offender, rather than just go to jail. Since the recidivism rate for this program is lower than for those who went to jail, apparently it is an effective program.

  115. If you have ever seen someone jump a turnstile and laugh at you for paying and because they can get away with it, you will not think that is a minor infraction. Obeying the law, and just punishment when it is broken is what holds society together. Teenagers with guns are dangerous and even if not fired can terrorize innocent people. They need to be punished.

  116. Anyone who carries an unlicensed gun is a menace, a threat to those around that person and that gun. You want to carry an unlicensed gun, go ahead and do so but know you'll face the consequences. No penalties will only make this place more unsafe. Those with guns may not have shot but I am not willing to wait until they do. There are gun laws for good reasons.

  117. @If it feels wrong, it probably is You totally missed all the facts stated in the article. This program helps people to stop carrying guns.

  118. @Thomas Zaslavsky I did get that. But they can get the program while in custody. They are not mutually exclusive.

  119. @If it feels wrong, it probably is "Anyone who carries an unlicensed gun is a menace, a threat to those around that person and that gun." If that's the case, then Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Charles Kinsey, Philando Castile, Walter Scott, and thousands of others would probably be relieved to know that the people who shot them weren't a "menace". Carrying a gun without a license doesn't prove a person is a danger any more than having the state's explicit endorsement to be armed ensures a person is not.

  120. The Mayor is dead wrong on this issue. People arent stupid. If we make the rule and its consequences clear, people will adjust their behavior. Possession of an unlicensed gun equals multiple years in jail. No exceptions, no reductions, no mitigating circumstances. The rule is simple; the consequences absolutely clear. And look at that -- it actually works. If we muddy up the rule with all kinds of special deals and exceptions, people, justifiably, believe that there really is no rule and that they will somehow beat the rap.

  121. @Steve Re-read the article. The Mayor, mistakenly, endorses your viewpoint! You ignored the fact that this community based program is changing lives for the better whereas Draconian mandatory sentencing does not. You also ignored the facts. It doesn’t work. Again, re-read the article. Even better read the author’s book and listen to her podcast.

  122. Bill de Macchio earned his black belt from Law and Order.

  123. Whoever wrote this headline did the author no favor. It's neither true nor relevant to theories of penal effectiveness. People who carry guns do so because they want to shoot something or somebody, or expect they will.

  124. @A Boston... I dispute the word "want" in your third sentence. And while surely there is a set of fire-arm possessors that WANT to shoot someone or something, I doubt seriously that a majority of them hold that sense.

  125. For reasons only he can answer, deBlasio is sucking up to the NYPD. Maybe he thinks this will make him look tough on crime and that it somehow will help with his faint, feeble presidential ambitions. Doing what we can to keep young people, especially young people of color, out of prison and doing something productive with their lives seems like a great idea. Putting them in prison, and thereby increasing the likelihood that they will not end up leading productive lives, is a bad idea. I wonder how many 'upstanding' citizens (e.g., not people of color) also have unregistered guns? Would de Blasio approve of indiscriminate raids to find out, and then eagerly send any offenders to prison? We have no way of answering the former question; we all know the answer to the latter.

  126. If you carry a weapon, if you point it at some one, then you're planning on killing them. Period.

  127. Funny, from de Blasio's debate performance you would have thought he was some kind of revolutionary Zapatista. Turns out he still mostly thinks in terms of imprisoning minorities.

  128. @sedanchair... Indeed he does, unless it is his son that is involved.

  129. If you carry a gun, you're a shooter. There would be no other reason to do that. Logic.

  130. It is ridiculous to let armed criminals walk free.

  131. Mayor De Blasio is such a hypocrite. If you are against the 1994 crime bill then you should be for pre-trial diversion for these kids. These are possession charges, not violent offenses.

  132. Not everyone who carries a gun is a shooter until they are.

  133. There should be no ambiguity. Carrying a illegal gun is NY should result in prison. I don't care rich, poor, black, white. It's the law.

  134. But most assuredly every shooter carries a gun.

  135. No true progressive should be calling for increased incarceration. We all know that some white kid in rural upstate New York who gets caught with an unlicensed gun in their car isn't going to jail.

  136. stats?

  137. I disagree with the premise of this article. What should be the penalty for driving drunk & not being in an accident? The punishment is for reckless behavior that can result in death. If you carry a gun illegally, you are endangering us all. You don't have to shoot it. You can lose it, have it stolen, leave it where your kids can get it, or shoot it in the heat of passion, or use it to commit suicide.

  138. Who cares? The founders obviously got this one wrong. Guns are a plague upon our society. The people who peddle them, the candidates and advocates who defend them are basically willing accomplices to the deaths of millions. Find another hobby.

  139. @Eli... Actually, the founders got it right... The Second Amendment was a "warning shot" against the possibility of a government that becomes overbearing and tyrannical. And "government", quite naturally, sees that as a threat to their hegemony.

  140. A handgun is going to protect us from the tyranny of a government that has fighter jets, aircraft carriers and nuclear weapons? Really?

  141. @Smilodon It's illegal to use the military weapons against civilians in this country. If that ever happened it's time for a full on revolution so it's better you should have a more effective weapon, like an AR15 with multiple 30 round "clips". If you read some of the writings of the delegates to the constitutional convention you would see that they anticipated the nation's standing army being used to suppress the citizenry. The armed forces are limited in size. If the entire citizenry are armed they will still be able to fight against a corrupt government and military.

  142. All guns should be banned from civilian ownership, and merely trying to keep them out of the hands of children is ridiculous.

  143. Ms. Bazelon does a poor job of communicating an extremely important part of the YCP plea agreements. They are diversion programs that select only the best candidates. EVEN if you are accepted it doesn't mean that you don't get punished. These are arduous programs and if you fail to comply with them you can face imprisonment of up to 15 YEARS without trial!!!! frankly the responses here show me that all this talk about criminal justice reform is just a trendy topic for "progressives" to show fake support for...if you're against this program you're really for locking up young black children despite them growing up in systemically impoverished conditions that steer them towards desperate situations. you don't care about systemic change of our racist institutions. giving disadvantaged people a 2nd chance, or improving our communities.

  144. Times columnists--especially the younger ones--are engaged in a race to be the most "woke", perhaps because the leader will earn more outside income through speaker fees, book revenues, etc. Arguing that carrying an unlicensed gun is basically harmless is a strong entry in this race, as long as Progressive readers don't notice her citing with approval the laws of states where anything goes with guns or think about how many unlicensed guns eventually kill people through crimes or accidents.

  145. One concern that I have with diversion programs, probation services, etc. is the amount and level of control "the system" has on ones life. People in these programs must give the state (county, city or whomever is in jurisdiction) asinine amounts of privacy information. Any slip up (it IS easy to miss a probation appointment due to transportation, childcare, etc.) can result in the original jail sentence being imposed. If this happens, you have given the state your privacy info AND are then incarcerated, which was suppose to be the tradeoff. Michelle Alexander has called this extreme monitoring of people convicted of crimes "Mass E-Carceration" under the guise of lowing the prison population.

  146. The naysayers against the Y.C.P. here fail to realize one thing: if you don't treat social pathologies like a public health threat with interventions, you will never know who is truly incorrigibly ‘evil’ and needs to be locked away forever and who was just wayward and required an intervention to turn around their life because of the circumstances they were born in and have neurologically been adapted to. It's only until you do the hard, and at times expensive route of personalizing the treatment plan per dysfunctional individual, that you can see progress and really find out who is just incurably ethically/morally such that they need to be removed from society for our protection.

  147. Licensed or not a handgun has only one purpose, to maim or kill another human being. Until Americans can get it out of their heads that not everyone is John Wayne or a freedom fighter there will still be countless lives lost. Do like other civilized countries such as the UK and ban handguns altogether and then we can stop this useless debate about how to punish possession.

  148. @Jay Karno... Sorry, handguns are used to control rabid raccoons, rats, and over-eager coyotes, too.

  149. @The Owl "Licensed or not a handgun has only one purpose, to maim or kill another human being." Not even a remotely true statement. That like asserting "the only purpose of alcohol is to get vulnerable women drunk and rape them"; both represent one of the worst conceivable uses of the item in question, not the 'only', or even the most common.

  150. @Jay Karno I am sure once you ban handguns altogether criminals won't have access to guns and you wouldn't have to punish them......

  151. In most places in this country carrying a gun is legal and in most cities it is regarded as a minor offense. But a small number of cities have draconian gun laws that punish the innocent and the guilty alike. NYC is one of those places where the rational attempt at self defense is criminalized and otherwise innocent young people are brutalized by police, their lives destroyed by incarceration, and their options in lawful society ended. After such treatment it is predictable that people would want to take revenge on a society that has treated them so unjustly, and they do. Much of the crime in the city can be traced to this reaction to brutal police and unjust laws. There is ample evidence showing that cities with rational laws not based on terror produce lower crime and more caring societies but NYC refuses to follow the evidence. The NYC police force is the largest in the country and it needs to have a certain level of crime to exist. So it has adopted policies aimed at enforcing discrimination and creating anger in many communities. These policies are responsible for a significant part of the total crime rate.

  152. Much of the crime in the city is not traced back to some brutality of police,the police are not causing anyone to mug,rob or burglerize..& most murders are young men with a serious beef with other young men-you need to wake up

  153. More guns = more gun deaths. Period.

  154. @Kevin And more alcohol means more alcohol related deaths, more knives means more stabbings, etc.

  155. But all shooters are carrying guns.

  156. @yulia And all drunk drivers have been drinking, so??....

  157. @Aaron That's why drunken driving is illegal.

  158. One could ask what is the point of carrying a gun unless you think you may want to use it?

  159. On thinking about this deeply, I prefer to believe the people who enforce the law on a daily basis - you know, the police - over a Creative Writing Fellow.

  160. New York is so anti-gun nutty that they put perfectly law abiding citizens in jail just for carrying a firearm. It really is ridiculous how paranoid New York is about guns. Forget that it’s a Constitutional right. So now the only folks with guns in New York are the criminals. That’s just great.

  161. @Mike L I have always wanted to know more about "law abiding" citizens. Which ones of the mass shooter in US history weren't a law abiding citizen when they bought their weapons? You may talk about Mental health and background checks and things that sounds good in writing. But how many mass shooter were mentally ill at the time of purchasing their weapon? Yes, not everyone who carries a gun is a shooter. But no one can be 100% certain that a person carrying a gun won't turn out to be a shooter. It is always safe to take universal precaution.

  162. @Mike L How are they law abiding when the law says they can't have an unlicensed gun, and yet they do? You have the constitutional right to free speech but you cannot walk into a theater and shout "fire" for no reason... everything in the constitution has limits. New York has defined those limits. They aren't denying people the right to own guns... they are simply saying tell us about it. You may not agree with their law or practice of this situation... but it's the law and how our country works.

  163. @Sam Do you know how many people died in mass shootings last year? About 212. All tragedies to be sure but these are a tiny fraction of overall gun deaths, despite what the media would have you believe. You're far more likely to die from a drunk driver yet restrictions on alcohol are relatively loose by comparison.

  164. Everyone who carries a gun, may not be a shooter, but every shooter carries a gun. It is impossible to tell the difference between the two, and nobody gets that wrong.

  165. "Young people in Y.C.P. often said they had guns for “protection.” This was wrenching to hear..." Only the naive would believe this statement. It's kind of like the alcoholic saying I need to drink to "calm my nerves."

  166. They are young people, teenagers. Of course they are naive. That’s part of being a teen.

  167. @Smilodon I'm not talking about the teenagers, I'm talking about the adults in the room who believe their claim that they carry guns to protect themselves from other teens.

  168. Possessing an unlicensed gun by anyone was supposed to bring minimum 1-year jail time in NYC, right? Didn't we all grow up with that for the past few decades? Now not? Are these the same folks who otherwise campaign against lesser gun restrictions across the nation, linking those to recent mass shootings? Make up your mind. Slippery slope.

  169. 1. YCP sounds good. Is there data showing that it works? 2. Why are people not getting permits?

  170. @Richard Schumacher Teenagers cannot get a permit, you have to be at least 21 or older. Even if you are old enough getting a permit to concealed carry is virtually impossible.

  171. DeBlasio is just playing politics. He has a bad relationship with the police department because he moved them away from Giuliani's policies and the NYPD felt he undermined their stance with the community. Now he's trying to make nice by supporting their stance on this issue - probably precisely because it only impacts such a small group of people. With regard to the overall questions of gun control and mandatory minimum sentences - it seems like such a schizophrenic stance with regard to liberal values. As a liberal I favor strict gun laws, I also oppose mandatory sentencing. Why not strict laws that result in fines, community service and yes - diversion for first offenders?

  172. Everyone who carries a gun is a potential shooter. That is something to worry about. If strict gun laws reduce or contribute to the reduction of crimes, that is great. I can’t recall ever seeing an article in the NYT that talks about the needs and problems victims of criminals, especially victims of violent crime; the emphasis instead is on trying to develop sympathy for the criminals, getting them out of jail early, keeping them out of jail entirely, letting them vote while in jail, etc. How about some articles on the impact of crime on victims and what society owes them?

  173. "Other states treat the offense as a misdemeanor or make exceptions for having an unlicensed gun in one’s home." There is no requirement that guns be licensed in the USA. It is an exception to prevailing law in the United States that guns are required to be licensed in local jurisdictions, like New York City, that once tried to ban 32oz beverage cups.

  174. @Aristotle Gluteus Maximus I've never had a friend die from having soda aimed at his stomach. But I did have a friend die from having a gun aimed at his stomach.

  175. @Jbugko So? What's that got to do with an American citizen's right to defend himself? I've had friends die from careless drivers and poor diet.

  176. It amazes me that any sane and intelligent person in this day and age would advocate for individuals to carry a gun without a permit, and then to be exempt from punishment. Guns kill about 40,000 Americans every year. A majority of these are deliberate attacks, but many are a consequence of suicide and firearm accidents. Ms Bazelon, your efforts to end mass incarceration are as admirable as they are necessary. However, in this important quest please also remember that a gun epidemic exists in this country, that is beyond international comparison. Lives are at stake. Statistics tell us that over 100 people will die from guns in the US today, and many more will be injured. Let's keep an eye on the forest, and stop politicizing our causes. End gun madness and glorification.

  177. @Peter R "Guns kill about 40,000 Americans every year. A majority of these are deliberate attacks, but many are a consequence of suicide and firearm accidents." The majority of those deaths are suicides. 2/3 of gun deaths are suicide.

  178. @ Aristotle, oh well everything is good then. Let’s just move on till the next shooting.

  179. It is true, not everyone who carries a gun is a shooter. The problem is that you find out who the shooters are when they start shooting. Then it is a little late.

  180. Mandatory prison sentences sentences for non-violent crimes are an artifact of the same kind of backward, punitive thinking that gave us the War on Drugs. And just like that "war", and tough-on-crime mass incarceration more generally, laws mandating harsh punishments for unlicensed possession (not *use*) of a firearm are a thinly veiled attack on minorities and the poor.

  181. The "either/or" nature of this discussion is troubling. If the diversion program is truly a "narrow escape hatch" for people most likely to benefit from it and not reoffend, then I support it at the same time that I support the mandatory minimum sentences for any illegal gun possessors (including those "holding it for a friend," as that canard goes) who do not qualify for the diversion program. While it is true that "not all gun possessors are shooters," *every* gun possessor is a *potential* shooter, and that must be stopped, either by a prison sentence or, where clearly appropriate, the diversion program.

  182. No, not everyone who carries a gun is a shooter. But everyone who carries a gun carries the power of life and death over me. Everyone who chooses to take that power without the piddling safeguards this state demands has earned their penalty.

  183. But anyone who carries a gun can easily become a shooter. On the other hand it would be more difficult for a person that does not carry a gun. That's just logic

  184. Not everyone who carries a gun is a shooter. But anyone carrying a gun may be a shooter. There is no legitimate reason for a civilian to be carrying a gun around the streets just for fun. They're not toys, they're machines of death. And treating them like they're harmless fun bobbles is insulting to the memories of all the innocent people gunned down by good guys with guns who went bad.

  185. If you carry a gun, you're a potential shooter. If you carry a gun, you are carrying with you a weapon with the potential to murder multiple people in short order, before there can be an intervention. If you carry a gun, you a threat to justice under the law, with the potential to act as judge, jury and executioner in a split second. If you carry a gun, you are the most dangerous person in the world to me, and not to be trusted.

  186. Best comment ever. We are not safer if everyone is carrying a gun. It just means that every confrontation becomes a potentially deadly threat. Look at police shootings, why are they happening at such an alarming rate? Because police have to assume everyone is armed, any movement of a suspect can be interpreted as reaching for a gun, so they shoot first.

  187. If he is not going to shoot, why is he carrying the gun? No point carrying it, if you have no plans to use it.

  188. If you're convicted of carrying an unlicensed gun you should face some time behind bars... but jail, not prison. 30 days sounds about right. You can't be tough on weapon violence and soft on weapon offenders... they are mutually exclusive. But in being tough, you don't have to be maniacal. Bottom line is there has to be some penalty for not following the law, and people carrying illegal weapons around is a good place to start in our universal effort to pre-crime this entire topic of gun violence...

  189. No, Ms. Bazelon, not every gun carrier is a shooter, but logic says that everyone who carries a gun is a potential shooter. Otherwise, why carry a gun?

  190. "...young people who completed Y.C.P. ... had a 22 percent lower rearrest rate within three years than others in their 16-to-24 age group who went to prison and then were released." Presumably offenders are selected for Y.C.P. participation because they have better-than-average prospects. Therefore, this comparison with outcomes of a population that was not specially selected is uninformative.

  191. American love affair with Second Amendment is insane. No body should be allowed to carry guns. Police are scared to death and this has lead to trigger happy culture. There no shame to look to places like Canada, Australia and Europe for how they have dealt with guns and gun violence.

  192. Everyone is a responsible gun owner. Until that day when they aren't.

  193. Yes, but everyone who wants to be a shooter, needs a gun.

  194. Perhaps if we took all the money spent on incarceration of all but the most violent individuals and assigned a social worker to everyone under 25 we would no longer need prisons.

  195. Look at the FBI crime stats database. The numbers clearly support the case - more guns available = more deaths from gun violence. Almost all of these deaths are criminal in nature. Further - selectively enforced laws are a problem that disproportionately affect people of color negatively, putting them into the system in the first place. If a law is worth having, it is worth enforcing equitably. If it's not, it shouldn't be there. This is the flip side of the "he's a good kid, though" failed rape prosecutions. One sad but predictable outcome here...I would bet that white kids of affluence are more likely to get the YCP pass than kids of color, from less well off areas. So - pick a side. Do you want gun control laws (including permits) that serve as a deterrent to more gun presence on the streets? Or do you want neighborhoods that are increasingly armed, knowing that this will likely increase the likelihood of gun violence? Including uninvolved third party violence.

  196. Shooter 1. A person who carries a weapon, whose only purpose is to kill another human being (or a life); 2. And uses the weapon at his moment of choice or weakness. There is so little diff between #1 & #2, miss - I will consider anyone a threat who has a gun w/o a proper training and insurance. I don't want to put my or my families and my friend's lives at risk when a person who has a gun looses his mental balance for what ever reason.

  197. Ms. Bazelon, I get it. I support New York State’s gun laws. The only reason someone would walk around NYC with a loaded gun is to kill or harm someone. Also, if someone carries a concealed weapon without a permit anywhere in New York, their intention most likely is to commit a crime. If a portion of New York’s criminal population is to have a protected status, as you advocate when it comes to New York’s concealed weapon and gun registration laws, the rest of us should have the absolute right to arm in order to protect us from these armed criminals.

  198. Uhhh... Why carry a gun, then? What are they good for except shooting?

  199. Ms. Bazelin was apparently never been mugged at gun point, like quite a few of my friends and neighbors in the 80ies and 90ties. I also wonder wether she lives in one of the poorer New Yorker neighborhoods, where minorities are still more than any other group afflicted by gun violence. It appears that she also does not understand, like many pro gun Americans that for example, in Chicago, the main persons affected by gun violence are poor Afro Americans. For me, she sounds like a typical liberal armchair combatant, who with no skin in the game wants to tear down one of the last few bulwarks against gun violence in this country which protect the entire NYC community, and which are actually working. I expect better judgment from a NYT columnist.

  200. No, prison isn't always the answer... But at what point does being compassionate turn to being stupid when faced with a defendant that has rap sheets that are the size of book manuscripts? Ms. Bazelon never seems to get around to addressing this point.

  201. The NYT NEVER publishes news about people defending themselves with firearms. Many other news sources publish news about people defending themselves-and these are just the stories that make the news. This nonsense about getting a license to own a firearm only adds to a useless bureaucracy. These fools don't realize that firearms ownership is a right.

  202. i have not met anyone who has a gun who i trust not to shoot someone

  203. You had me at "De Blasio Doesn’t Get It." Fill in the blank.

  204. Bazelon writes: “In some states, possessing a gun without a permit isn’t even a crime.” Are we supposed to base gun laws on the lowest common denominator? I hope not. Perhaps the length of NY state’s mandatory minimum is longer than it should be, but I agree with the concept of a law that punishes people for carrying loaded weapons without a permit.

  205. My state does not license firearms and open and concealed carry is available to anyone who wants it. We have a low crime rate and do not see many guns around. Crime is caused by many factors but none of them come from having a gun.

  206. @Bobotheclown I think it's missing the point a bit to say "none of them come from having a gun", because firearms undoubtedly increase the potential damage which can result from a given act of violence. Regardless of whether one's intentions are nefarious or noble, that's kind of the whole point of carrying a gun in a non-recreational context: to increase the force one can bring to bear on an adversary, be they aggressor or defender. In other words, the prevalence of guns isn't a direct cause of violence (criminal or otherwise), but it unquestionable makes violence more deadly.

  207. @Matt This is true it also is known to exaggerate violence aka "gun muscles" . People do things with regards to pursuit and confidence in confronting people that they would not do with guns!

  208. I lived in NYC for 20 years and never worried about gun violence because it was so rare. Now living in another East Coast major city where there are several shootings a week, and much looser gun laws. Making excuses for people's behavior doesn't help keep them alive. I think the program for young people is good, but the strict 3.5-year mandatory sentence is also good.

  209. I live in NYC and worry about being shot every time I see a cop. It is the most violent city I have ever lived in. We must exist in different economic worlds.

  210. @Jonathan As a citizen of Canada I have always had a hard time understanding why in a society supposedly ruled by laws handgun ownership is even permitted. They serve no real purpose except to do bad things, surely hunters don't need them and aren't the Police supposed to protect the people and uphold the law? They should be the only people that have them.

  211. Distinguish between offenses involving drugs like marijuana from offenses involving carrying a gun in public. A person using marijuana only harms himself. {We agree of course that a person who commits a crime or has a lethal traffic accident while high on pot has no diminished culpability.} But a person carrying a gun in public has the ability to kill an innocent person. Most homicides are with handguns. We need to get handguns off the streets. Prison sentences for those carrying without a permit are a useful deterrent. Please don't give us the biomass that the gun carrier does not intend to use his gun. If he has the gun situations will arise where that gun is used [and someone dies] even if the original intent was not to use the gun. I am all for second chances but the person killed by someone with a gun has no second chance. He is dead.

  212. anyone who has a gun can shoot someone at any time

  213. Not everyone who carries a gun is a shooter? Then why carry a gun? Sounds like the NRA to me.