The Fourth of July weekend is unfortunately also no stranger to gun violence and shooting victims in New York City and nationwide.

Across the country there were about 233 people killed and 618 shooting victims injured in over 500 shootings during the holiday weekend on July 3, 4, and 5, reported CNN.

That was a “26% drop from last year’s holiday weekend.”

This comes as Governor Andrew Cuomo, in partnership with a coalition of Black and Brown elected officials and non violence organizations, declared the first-in-the-nation “gun violence disaster emergency.” The state is committing to a $138.7 million investment in treating gun violence as a public health crisis in communities. The strategy will employ tracking emerging gun violence patterns and deploying resources to those areas as well as a focus on intervention and youth programs.

“We’re building New York back better than ever before, but part of rebuilding is addressing the systemic injustices that were exposed by COVID. If you look at the recent numbers, more people are now dying from gun violence and crime than COVID – this is a national problem but someone has to step up and address this problem because our future depends on it,” said Cuomo in his morning briefing on Wednesday. “Just like we did with COVID, New York is going to lead the nation once again with a comprehensive approach to combating and preventing gun violence, and our first step is acknowledging the problem with a first-in-the-nation disaster emergency on gun violence. When we see an injustice we don’t look the other way, we stand up and fight it because that’s the New York way.”

In general this year, according to NYPD statistics, gun violence has risen compared to 2020.

However following national trends, June and this past Fourth of July weekend has seen shootings, shooting victims, and murders fall compared to this time last year.

Last year there were 45 shooting incidents over the holiday while this year had 24, said Police Commissioner Dermot Shea at Mayor Bill de Blasio’s morning briefing on Tuesday.

“I’m not happy with that current level, but it is progress. And that’s what’s important here,” said Shea.

De Blasio said the month of June, particularly in two crucial categories, shootings which are down down almost 20% and murder which is down 23%, has shown “real progress” in combatting the overall surge in gun violence and violent crime across the city.

“The horrible, perfect storm of COVID caused so many problems and ills in our society, and we lost so many people, and on top of that unleashed a wave of violence all over the nation and blue states and red states alike all over we’ve seen the same problems, but the solution is to fight back, work with communities, do what we’ve done before,” said de Blasio in the briefing. “Things that work like neighborhood policing, precision policing, bringing our social fabric back together. These are the things that will make us safe again. It’ll take a lot of work, but it can be done.”

The mayor attributed this progress to major gang takedowns recently, bigger investment in community-based solutions to violence and violence interrupter programs, and the impact of the economic recovery.

Shea added that there’s been a continued increase in gun arrests on the police front. The NYPD has added staff to their Gun Violence Suppression Division and are tackling cases and arrests of individuals with illegal firearms, said Shea.

“We’re going to continue to work with our partners to make sure that the message is simple. Anyone that is carrying an illegal firearm in New York City has to have consequences and should be taken off the street,” said Shea. “The gang takedowns—the mayor mentioned the courts coming back, critical to what we’re trying to do here.”

The NYPD has collaborated with different prosecutorial offices across the city, and in the last 60 days, has wrapped seven critical cases, stated Shea.

“Those seven cases resulted in 94 individuals, and these are the worst of the worst, 94 individuals off the street, and when you look at why they’re off the street, directly tied to either gun possessions or acts of violence,” he said.

Shea alluded that it was important to convict those arrested for illegal firearm possession and sentence them to prison to discourage more criminals from feeling there’s no consequences for committing a shooting.

Shea also added that the “community relations side of the house” and the community group’s work with the youth has been imperative to decreasing gun violence.

“As police, we often encounter young people who have had limited options. Part of our calling is to help kids make better choices, expand opportunities, and help them reach their fullest potential,” said Shea.

The chair of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, Councilmember Adrienne Adams, said that the celebrated return of the Summer Youth Employment Program is an important milestone in the city’s recovery and “a tremendous boon to our city’s young people.”

The city has doubled the size of the program from 2013 with an intended target of 75,000 participating youth and a $134 million investment. The increase covered the expansion of the program, an increase in the New York State minimum wage to $15 per hour, and the development of new program options within SYEP, said de Blasio’s office.


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