Speaker Quinn Launches Anti-Gun Violence Task Force

By Jill Colvin on September 8, 2011 4:08pm 

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn spoke beside Councilman Jumaane Williams at the City Hall press conference on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn spoke beside Councilman Jumaane Williams at the City Hall press conference on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011.
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DNAinfo/Olivia Scheck

MANHATTAN — City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced the launch of a new task force to combat gun violence after a spate of tragic shootings rocked the city this week.

The Speaker’s office said the task force will bring together experts, law enforcement and community groups to try to find ways to clamp down on gun violence among young people, which has been on the rise.

A new analysis by DNAinfo found that violent crime is up across the city, with 198 shooting incidents in Manhattan in 2010, versus 146 in 2009, an increase of more than 35 percent. Citywide, that number grew from 1,420 to 1,473 last year, a jump of 4 percent.

Other violent crimes are also up, including the murder rate, which jumped for the first time in decades last year, up 13.8 percent from 2009.

The new task force will be co-chaired by Brooklyn City Councilman Jumaane Williams, who was handcuffed and detained at the violence-plagued West Indian Day Parade with Public Advocate Bill de Blasio's aide Kirsten J. Foy.

“For too many families across our city, gun violence is an unrelenting fact of life,” Quinn said in a statement. “It’s time for that to change.”

The ramped-up effort to stamp out shootings comes on the heels of an outbreak of gun violence across the city. 

In the past weekend alone, nearly 50 people were shot, according to numbers from the Speaker's office. Three of those victims died. That's part of a wave of 98 people who were shot between Aug. 28 and Sept. 4, an increase of more than 45 percent from same period last year, they said.

A spokesman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a long-time advocate against gun crime, declined to comment on the task force.

The mayor has increasingly placed the blame for the city’s gun violence on weak federal gun laws, citing the fact that nearly 90 percent of guns used in crimes in the city come from out-of-state.

The task force is expected to meet in the coming weeks, and will begin its work by reaching out to communities to gather ideas about potential strategies, according to the release. 

People look on as police investigate a shooting outside the J. Rozier Hansborough Recreation Center on 135th Street in Central Harlem on Monday, April 11, 2011.
People look on as police investigate a shooting outside the J. Rozier Hansborough Recreation Center on 135th Street in Central Harlem on Monday, April 11, 2011.
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DNAinfo/David Torres

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