Illegal firearms remain a serious threat in Manhattan. Under my Plan to Reduce Gun Violence and Trafficking, I will employ every resource at the DA’s disposal – including promoting amnesty programs, building law enforcement and community coalitions, implementing new technologies, and aggressively lobbying for enhanced legislation.
We need new solutions, tactics and strategies. We will continue working effectively with communities to reduce gun violence with an aggressive program to reduce gang violence and keep our streets free of crime. As DA, I will:
- Enhance Amnesty Programs. My plan calls for increasing the use of amnesty programs to allow the delivery of firearms to appropriate authorities without fear of prosecution. Parents who find guns in homes that may belong to others, and individuals who possess guns but come to realize that possession of firearms is a bad choice, will know exactly what to do with weapons and should be provided with cash for surrendering them. This will cost money, but the greatest cost is to fail to employ an amnesty program that saves lives.
- Increase Involvement of Other Entities. The DA’s office will take the lead in Manhattan’s war on illegal guns, but it cannot succeed alone. My plan calls for enhanced cooperation with other agencies, organizations, and programs. The plan includes:
- A Regional Firearms Task Force comprised of State and Federal Law Enforcement Agencies. A task force comprised of state and local law enforcement agencies from New York and sister states, joining with federal agencies including the ATF, CBP, ICE and the FBI. It will be tasked with stemming the flow of guns into the City and with identifying those responsible for the trafficking of guns. The Task Force will also aid the fight against gangs and potential terrorist organizations.
- Community Outreach. Gun violence is a problem that affects our entire society, and successful solutions must incorporate community members and organizations. The DA’s office will reach into communities to inform them about drug laws, listen to their concerns, and work closely with members of the community.
- Education: Our schools can provide a valuable tool in fighting the scourge of guns in our communities. Educating the young about how the possession of firearms leads to an escalation in gun violence and avoidable deaths in our communities can go a long way towards building a permanent solution to Manhattan’s gun problem.
- Violence Prevention Programs. Programs based on a public health model, which treat gun violence as an epidemic to be treated, have proven extremely successful. In one study, the CeaseFire program, which works to mentor high risk individuals and provide outreach and conflict mediation efforts, was able to reduce rates of gun violence by as much as 34 percent. My plan calls for working closely with such organizations.
- Step Up Information Collection and Prosecution Efforts. Aggressively combating the threat of illegal guns requires understanding how guns are trafficked, who uses them, and how best to gain new information about them. Key facets of this effort include:
- Aggressively Addressing Gang Violence. One of the most disturbing trends in illegal firearms is the use and distribution of firearms by youth gangs. This gang problem must be addressed before is grows. And by focusing on the possession and use of guns by gang members, we will simultaneously be fighting the gang problem. We must use every investigative technique in our arsenal to combating these related problems.
- Community Prosecution. My proposal for Community-Based Justice model, in which Assistant DA’s are assigned to communities and work closely with both law enforcement and community organizations, will aid prosecutors in understanding the gun problems each individual community faces. Prosecutors will learn what criminals and organizations work together and who bears watching, while community members will come to know and trust their ADA and be more likely to come forward with information or suggestions. The more trust that can be engendered between our communities and law enforcement, the better.
- Enhanced Intelligence Gathering. Community-based prosecution will lead to better intelligence gathering. By understanding the problems faced by the community, prosecutors can better frame questions to elicit information and cooperation from defendants, reassure reluctant witnesses, and focus investigations.
- Technology. Technology must be utilized to its utmost in tracking trends in firearm possession and use. Gang members are more sophisticated in their use of computers and technology, and more knowledgeable about law enforcement’s techniques, than ever before. It is essential that law enforcement stay one step ahead by continuing to update its investigative tools and stay current with ever-evolving technologies. In the battle against guns, information is the prosecutor’s strongest asset, enabling the creation and implementation of effective strategies.
- Push for Key Legislation. Many important changes must be enacted at the level of State and Federal law, and I will aggressively lobby legislatures to make these changes. Much-needed legislation includes:
- Closing the “Home or Place of Business” loophole. Currently, criminals caught with an illegal, loaded firearm can escape felony charges if the firearm is in their home or place of business. Case law supports a fairly restrictive view of the “home or place of business” exception, to avoid extending its protection to a defendant who is using either a home or workplace as a base of operations for a criminal enterprise like narcotics trafficking. Still, it is important, particularly in the “home” exception, to have the legislature clarify and limit the scope of the provision. It simply should not apply where the defendant’s home is used primarily for illegal activities, or to store or sell contraband, or to safeguard the proceeds of illegal activity.
- Enhancing Identification of Bullets Fired from Weapons. There are a number of methods which allow law enforcement to identify bullets and/or bullet casings recovered from a crime scene. The most effective of these methods would be a registry of the “land and groove” signature on the bullets fired from every firearm manufactured with a potential sale in New York. I will work to create such a registry and make it a national standard. Other methods include “micro-stamping” legislation, in which every semi-automatic handgun available for ultimate sale in New York would be equipped with the ability to stamp bullet casings. These two methods taken together would be most effective in giving law enforcement the best tools to fight violent crime.
- Strengthening National Gun Laws. Gun crime is a national problem as well as a local one. I will urge Congress to close the gun show loophole, reinstate the ban on assault weapons, and promote common sense initiatives to prevent guns getting into the hands of criminals.