The Nation’s Anti-Gun Mayors and Governors Have a Problem With Reality

Eric Adams,Alvin Bragg
Mayor Eric Adams, left, and District Attorney Alvin Bragg, right (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Several of the nation’s most ardent gun control activist governors and mayors of the largest metropolitans are staring down a divergent reality. They continue to stick with publicizing increasing gun control restrictions on law-abiding citizens as crime is going down in many – though not all – major cities, while gun sales continue to increase at “new normal” historically high rates.

The tired scare tactic of warning “more guns means more crime” is crumbling apart as millions of law-abiding Americans are awakening to what it means to be a lawful and responsible gun owner. The streak of more than one million NSSF-adjusted FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) verifications processed for the purchase of a firearm hit 55 months in February 2024.

Those firearm sales figures include significant increases in gun ownership in some of the country’s bluest states and cities. In those same areas, crime has been rampant over the past several years as politicians embraced “Defund the Police” efforts, bail reform policies and going soft on criminals.

The rest of the law-abiding population has pushed back in a resounding way.

Eyes on the Big Apple

One city where the divergent reality is most prominently seen today is New York City. Perhaps no city has seen more dissatisfied citizens about their feeling toward public safety than the Big Apple. It was a major factor under former accidental Mayor Bill de Blasio and continues under Mayor Eric Adams. That includes a stretch in 2022 where 70 percent of New York City residents felt unsafe.

That figure hasn’t improved much in the past year. The New York Times reported on a new poll showing that only 37 percent of city residents felt satisfied with the level of safety in their neighborhood. The same poll found that only half of residents admitted they planned to stay in the city past 2028.

“People are fed up with the quality of life. There’s a general sense of lawlessness. You go into the CVS and there’s shoplifting. People’s cars get vandalized,” Queens Councilman Robert Holden told The New York Post about the polling.

Despite residents still feeling unsafe in their city – particularly while New Yorkers still face spikes in crime on the city’s subway – two trends have overlapped to demonstrate why crime is actually falling a bit in New York City from the recent highs over the past few years: increases in gun ownership and law enforcement getting tough on criminals.

In New York City, the rampant crime of the past several years, as well as more recent events including rises in antisemitism, have contributed to large numbers of new law-abiding gun owners in the city. WomenAfrican AmericansJewish residents and even a collection of hundreds of the city’s bodega owners have all taken the Second Amendment into their own hands to purchase firearms. It’s also led to a decrease in crime so far compared to last year.

“Anyone that’s out there looking to rob us, hurt us, kill us – beware,” Fernando Mateo, a spokesperson for the United Bodegas of America recently said. “You may be walking into the wrong bodega because now we have the same firepower you have.”

All told, NSSF-adjusted FBI NICS verifications for the purchase of a firearm in New York have totaled nearly 1.6 million. That’s a lot of new, empowered New Yorkers taking their personal safety into their own hands and not relying on delayed or understaffed law enforcement. Criminals are taking note.

Busting Bad Guys 

In addition to the massive number of new gun owners in the Big Apple, the falling crime rate is likely due to another logical effort that has nothing to do with placing more restrictions on law-abiding gun owners. Instead, it turns out that going after and getting tough on criminals who break the law has real, positive impacts on the city.

The Gothamist reported on a new survey released by the mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and the New York Police Department that highlighted new information about what types of illegal guns police are seizing and where. The report breaks down more than 6,200 firearms that police seized between July 2020 and December 2021.

confiscated crime guns
Courtesy Bronx District Attorney

“About a third of [the seized firearms] had been used in a crime and about two-thirds had not. The guns that had not been used in a crime included those seized from people who didn’t have a license to possess a firearm, and weapons that people voluntarily turned over to law enforcement at gun buybacks,” the report stated. It should be noted that illegally possessing a firearm is, in fact, a crime.

The report also demonstrated that most of the seized firearms connected to a crime came from police precincts with high crime rates, reinforcing that police know where violent criminals are, that they are using and possessing illegal firearms and that those areas deserve the most attention.

Lastly, the crime report reinforced that illegally possessed handguns are, by far, the most commonly used firearm when a crime is committed. More than 70 percent of all the guns seized were handguns, with only eight percent being either a rifle or shotgun. When the report segments those guns out further to look at the “crime guns” the numbers are even more telling. More than 80 percent of recovered firearms were handguns with only three percent being a long gun.

This data tracks fairly closely with what the firearm industry has said for years: that the overwhelming majority of firearms used in crime are illegally obtained handguns and that, also, Modern Sporting Rifles (MSRs), which there are more than 28 million in circulation, are seldom used in a crime.

Not an Outlier 

While crime is actually staying high in Washington, D.C., even though the city already implements nearly every gun control law imaginable, and a few other major cities that had notoriously soft-on-crime prosecutors or that severely cut police budgets, New York City isn’t an outlier. Across the country in major cities crime seems to be trending downward in the right direction.

Not all major cities can point towards new gun restrictions or gun control laws as the reason behind the decrease. But, in every state – including many of the major cities which often have left-leaning, gun control supportive mayors – firearm sales have kept up at a blistering pace.

With more law-abiding gun owners, and with more states like Louisiana and South Carolina opting for permitless carry, it’s abundantly clear criminals have recognized they are facing more empowered and confident residents that won’t be such easy targets as victims anymore.


Matt Manda is Manager, Public Affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation

4 Responses

  1. I have to wonder … Is crime really going down, or are people not bothering to report the ones they know the police / DA / etc. won’t bother to follow up on?

    That would result in the official statistics looking better, while the reality gets worse.

    1. No one,

      I would guess that most of us have a similar “gut feel” to yours about where any “reduction” in crime is really coming from, but if that is what is happening, it becomes almost unprovable.

    2. Probably both. You have to keep in mind why it went up recently (2020 craziness, along with criminal justice and bail “reform”). Of course they want to hide anything that makes them look bad to the unaware normies.

    3. “I have to wonder … Is crime really going down,…”

      I believe the drop is real, for one good reason –

      The saturation of video cameras in public, and private. So many people have Ring cameras and similar, and are more than happy to hand over the video to cops if they ask for it.

      It’s nearly impossible to get away with crime scot-free in such an environment. You leave ‘Digital Footprints’ *everywhere* as you move about…

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