Grabbing Guns Won't
Reduce Urban Violence

By Jacob Sullum. Feb 23, 2022

If you want to reduce 'gun violence', New York City Mayor Eric Adams thinks, you need to go after guns. His plan relies heavily on disrupting gun trafficking, seizing guns, and arresting people for illegal gun possession.

This strategy is unlikely to work. Worse, the focus on gun possession arrests, if it fails to distinguish between people who pose a real threat to public safety and people who carry guns for self-protection, will compound the injustice of systematically denying city dwellers their Second Amendment rights.

"It is estimated that as many as 2 million illegal guns were in circulation in New York City in 1993," the Justice Department reports. Last year, the New York City Police Department seized about 6,000 guns; even at that unusually high rate, three decades of seizures would not have made much of a difference.

Given that reality, attempts to disrupt the supply of guns are not a very promising approach either. For crime guns in New York, the average time between initial sale and confiscation is nearly 12 years.

Philadelphia, like New York, has recently seen sharp increases in homicides. But law enforcement officials in that city are rightly skeptical that gun seizures or supply-side measures are an effective way to tackle the problem. .....

A Philadelphia report states - "Most guns used and/or recovered are those purchased a long time ago, indicating that attempts to limit the future supply of guns now will not impact the current 'gun violence' crisis." Furthermore - "a law enforcement strategy prioritizing seizing guns locally does little to reduce the supply of guns, as well as alienating the very communities that it is designed to help."


Back to Top