New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order Tuesday declaring a “disaster emergency” in response to the severe spike in gun violence his state has experienced over the past year. He made the announcement on Twitter.
The New York Times reports a massive spike in crime since last summer. Bloomberg reports that NYC saw a 38% year-over-year rise in shootings for the first half of 2021 and Cuomo’s executive order itself states, “since January 2021, gun violence is up 48% in New York City.” Democratic candidate for NYC Mayor Eric Adams, declared victory in the Democratic primary the same day as Cuomo’s announcement. Adams is a moderate (relatively speaking) who openly rejected the “defund the police” narrative and ran on an anti-crime platform.
Governor Cuomo simultaneously signed legislation making it easier for individuals to bring civil lawsuits against Gun Manufacturers on Tuesday. This measure is being hailed as ‘first of it’s kind’ legislation; it attempts to exploit a small ‘public nuisance’ loophole in the 2005 federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which generally holds gun manufacturers immune from liability for the actions of individuals using their products. According to state Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy (D) the public nuisance law is thought to be a sort of legal loophole to work around federal protections, although Fahy goes on to admit that the chance of this new law actually piercing the federal protections “would be a long shot.”
Cuomo’s announcement comes only 13 days after the State of Disaster Emergency for Covid-19 was ended. Just as he did during the CoVid-19 pandemic, Cuomo is using NY Exec L § 29-A (2019) as the legal authority for his emergency declaration. That law, entitled State and Local Natural and Man-Made Disaster Preparedness, 29-A – Suspension of Other Laws, grants the governor broad authority to suspend virtually any state or local laws or regulations if he deems that “compliance with such [laws or regulations] would prevent, hinder, or delay action necessary to cope with the disaster.” (NY Excel L § 29-A, 1). The Governor’s new emergency disaster declaration (EO No. 211, 2021) suspends eight different section of the State’s Finance Law, creates an Office of Gun Violence Prevention as well as a Governor’s Council on Gun Violence Reduction, and mandates that police departments begin reporting data related to gun crimes immediately.
This is all happening against the backdrop of a what appears to be a nation-wide shift in narrative for Democrats. Just last week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki claimed that Republicans are actually the party of ‘defund the police’ and the Biden Administration announced a “strike force” to prevent the flow of illegal firearms into major cities like New York, Chicago, L.A., San Francisco and Washington D.C.
Very little in the way of hard evidence linking crime to gun control has been offered by the White House, the Cuomo Administration or anyone else. The new Cuomo emergency declaration specifically reads, “the state has an obligation to act in a manner consistent with the science and data on gun violence in order to prevent imminent and immediate harm to communities across the state.” It goes on in the very next line, “the science and data suggest that deployment of more violence interrupters, and provision of summer employment programs will have an immediate ameliorative effect on the increased violence that has been occurring in these communities.” (EO No. 211, 2021) However; it does not provide any citation or reference to the aforementioned “science.” It should be noted that since the federal assault weapons ban ended in 2004, New York City has enjoyed a significant overall reduction in “major felony offenses.” It should further be noted that no material changes in local or federal gun laws have occurred since last year which may have caused the sudden jump in crime beginning in 2020.