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Mayor Bloomberg Defends Drop in Gun Seizures by NYPD

By Jill Colvin | August 13, 2012 8:26pm
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that it would be great if police recovered zero guns on the streets.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that it would be great if police recovered zero guns on the streets.
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DNAinfo/Jill Colvin

HELL’S KITCHEN — Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended the drop in gun seizures by the NYPD during his tenure as evidence the city’s controversial stop-and-frisk program is working — despite a troubling increase in shootings citywide.

As DNAinfo.com New York reported Monday, the number of guns taken off the street by the NYPD has dropped significantly over Bloomberg’s time in office, from 4,069 guns seized back in 2002 to 3,443 last year, despite a 600-percent spike in the number of stop-and-frisks by the NYPD.

But Bloomberg said that, in a perfect world, police would be seizing zero guns during searches on city streets.

“Let’s get it to zero. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Or do you want more guns out there?” he said when asked about the drop at a press conference in Hell's Kitchen Monday.

Stop & Frisk Guns Recovered 2
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Billy Figueroa

"We’re going to continue with stop-and-frisk and anything else that we can come up with, and the fact that we are getting fewer guns says it’s working," he said.

Numbers, however, show that an increase in the number of stop-and-frisks by police has done little to drive down the number of shootings citywide. A DNAinfo.com New York analysis of NYPD data found that, while cops stopped and frisked a record number of people last year, 1,821 people remained victims of gunfire. That level of gunplay was virtually unchanged from Bloomberg and Kelly’s first year in office, when there were 1,892 shootings despite having had five times fewer stops.

“It is true that there are more shootings," Bloomberg acknowledged. "Keep in mind that one gun can shoot an awful lot of times."

"Any gun you get off the streets, any gun that you can convince or scare a kid not to carry with them, is one gun less that can shoot," he said, adding, "If we have more shootings now, can you imagine what it would be without stop-and-frisk?”

The stop-and-frisk policy has come under attack by the New York Civil Liberties Union and many local officials who allege the program targets young black and Hispanic men, who are rarely arrested or issued summons after being stopped.

Bloomberg again called on critics to come up with viable alternatives to keep guns off the streets.

“Well, if we have another one, we’d be happy to hear it. What is your approach to it?" he asked. "Another typical ‘everything but and nothing good’s enough,'" he said. "You want people to get shot every day. I don’t want that."

During the past two years alone, the number of firearms seized by police has fallen 13.5 percent from 3,908 in 2009, with 510,742 police stops, to 3,443 last year, when the NYPD stopped a record-busting 685,724 New Yorkers.

By comparison, during Bloomberg’s first year in office, the NYPD recovered 4,069 guns — even though police stop-and-frisked roughly 96,000 people, according to NYPD stats.

Bloomberg argued that, despite the drop in seizures and increased shootings, the city’s murder rate remains at historic lows.

“What we do know is that... we’re 11 percent lower than the best year ever," he said, citing the last seven months of NYPD stats.

"We are 25 percent better than two years ago and 20 percent better than last year," he said. "If you’re not happy with 20 percent fewer murders than last year and you don’t think that our tactics aren’t delivering, I don’t know what else to tell you."