New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was highly critical of predecessor Michael Bloomberg while running his populist campaign last year, but de Blasio is picking up right where Bloomberg left off in one key area: gun control.
De Blasio this week announced that the city is spending $12.7 million to create the “Gun Violence Crisis Management System.”
The program will include “evidence-based community interventions” and “anti-violence messaging,” the mayor’s office said in a statement.
“While New York remains the safest big city in the nation and crime has continued to drop citywide, gun violence remains a challenge,” de Blasio said. “With this initiative, we are creating a focused effort incorporating mental health services, legal services, after-school programs — using models of proven success and targeting the communities where nearly half of the city’s shootings occur — into our effort to reduce gun violence and create a safer New York.”
While serving as mayor, Bloomberg started the organization Mayors Against Illegal Guns, now called Everytown for Gun Safety.
De Blassio has been criticized for abandoning some anti-crime measures the city adopted in the 1990s under then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Since he took office, shootings increased by 12.9 percent from January to August, compared to the same period in 2013, the New York Post reported. At the same time, the number of people charged with gun crimes fell from 3,247 in the first eight months of 2013 to 2,966 this year.
The new program will establish school-based conflict mediation and a campaign to “reinforce community norms against gun violence, similar to successful campaigns promoting seatbelt use and against smoking,” the mayor’s office said.
“By focusing on the communities with the highest levels of shootings and working with those at-risk for committing violence, the city’s Crisis Management System will be able to prevent shootings before they happen and help save lives,” City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said. “I thank the de Blasio administration for partnering with the council on this important initiative to make our city even safer and for their continued efforts to permanently eradicate gun violence in our city.”
Follow Fred Lucas (@FredVLucas3) on Twitter