July 20, 2022
Video available at: https://youtu.be/o97ORj7fLSE
Brendan McGuire, Chief Counsel to the Mayor: Good afternoon. My name is Brendan McGuire. I'm the chief counsel to Mayor Adams. We're here at the Gracie Mansion having just concluded a very productive several hours’ worth of discussion as part of the 2022 Mayors Against Illegal Guns Summit. We had over 15 mayors participate this morning from across the country. As I said, the exchanges were incredibly thorough and thoughtful and, I think, valuable to everyone who participated. We're going to have several participants in the summit provide remarks here this afternoon. One of the essential partners for today's summit and an organization that has also proven to be an invaluable ally to so many mayors and local leaders with respect to gun violence is Everytown for Gun Safety. They are leading the fight in so many different ways in this area. So, we're joined today and we're going to hear from Nick Suplina who is the senior vice president for law and policy for Everytown.
Nick Suplina, Senior Vice President, Everytown for Gun Safety: Thank you. Thanks, Brendan. Thank you, mayor, for having us here. And thanks to all of the mayors who participated today. It was really a remarkable day. So, my name is Nick Suplina. I'm with Everytown for Gun Safety. I'm honored to be here today to speak clearly to the industry's role in gun violence in this country. Spiking gun violence has rightfully gotten a lot of attention in the news. You've covered mass shootings in detail. You've covered daily gun violence. You asked hard questions of mayors and police chiefs about what they are doing to curb gun violence. But too often, the story is missing a key player. Too often, we're not asking the right folks, "What are you doing to reduce gun violence?" I'm talking about the gun industry. The makers, distributors, and manufacturers that are selling and profiting off of products that are routinely used in crimes and that are fueling the epidemic of gun violence. What do I mean by routinely? Well, for example, between 2016 and 2020, over one million of the industry's products, firearms, were recovered by law enforcement in connection to a crime.
Suplina: But the gun industry would rather we not talk about that. But that's in fact what we did at the summit today. The gun industry would rather we not talk about how local, comprehensive crime gun tracing can help identify problem dealers whose practices might be flooding our streets with illegal guns. But today, we did. The gun industry would rather we not talk about how responsible monitoring of their own supply chains could stop diversion of guns into illegal markets. But today, we did. In point of fact, the industry would prefer we not talk about them or their record profits. But today, we discussed a meaningful step towards accountability — revealed the top five gun manufacturers that are responsible for the most guns recovered in crimes in 12 of the cities participating here today.
Suplina: Here are the top ones. Five gun manufacturers accounted for half of all the recovered crime guns in these cities. Led by, as you can see here, Glock, then Taurus, Smith & Wesson, Ruger, and Polymer80, which is the country's largest manufacturer of ghost guns, showing that ghost guns are now topping the list. Collectively, these five manufacturers... just these five... accounted for nearly 10,000 recovered crime guns in a single year. Nearly 20,000 over two years. In nine of the 12 cities that participated today, the top manufacturer of recovered crime guns was Glock. Each of these manufacturers saw increased recoveries from 2020 to 2021, but Polymer80, the ghost gun manufacturer, experienced the biggest year over year increase. Nearly a 50% jump.
Suplina: Today is just the start. With commitment from these mayors, we're going to analyze the data and we're going to name names. We hope those of you covering gun violence make a practice of doing the same. Because at every gun crime scene, there's a gun. And behind that gun is a company that is making a profit and that is making business decisions that is costing us lives. We at Everytown look forward to working with these mayors, this group, and expanding this group to finally hold the gun industry accountable for its role in gun violence. Thank you.
McGuire: Thank you, Nick. Today's summit was done in partnership with the African American Mayors Association. And so, now, we'll hear from the president of AAMA, Mayor Frank Scott of Little Rock.
Arkansas Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott: Thank you so much. Today, in partnership with Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the African American Mayors Association had the opportunity to bring to light and attention an issue that we all know too well as a gun violence epidemic. As we understand that this is an epidemic and a public health issue, we also know that we have to continue to focus on what do we do to really solve it. We had this opportunity with our fellow mayors, led by Major Eric Adams. And we're so grateful for him and his hospitality and his leadership and what he's been able to do here in New York City. But the fact of the matter is, each of us receive a phone call each and every day about a homicide dealing with gun violence and illegal guns. The question is... Because we're the ones calling the mothers, the fathers, the sisters, the brothers. We're the ones attending the funerals. We're the ones saying the prayers. But it's cold comfort until there is a true solution. That's the reason why we all met today. As we are all strategizing together, working together in a concerted effort to solve one of our nation's crucial problems right now. It's this point today, as we charge forward together, as we go after the gun manufacturers, putting them on notice that we're here to address this issue, this plague in our cities. Thank you so much.
McGuire: I'll now introduce one of our neighboring mayors to the north, the mayor of Mount Vernon, Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard.
New York Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard: Good afternoon, everyone. I'm just really excited to be here today as one of the national co-chairs of Mayors Against Illegal Guns and the vice president of the African American Mayors Association. We have waited for this day to come together and have a very strategic and intentional conversation about addressing gun violence in our communities, as well as dealing with the manufacturers of these guns. And yes, this is the compilation of what we found in our communities. I had an unrelated press conference yesterday and I spoke with the mother of Anthony Boyd, who was murdered in Mount Vernon in May of 2021. She lives in Liberia. She sent her son to live with his father and other family members here in the United States, here in New York, for a better opportunity and a chance. She says, "I cannot believe that my son died in New York, in America, the land of the free, the home of the brave, where there's great opportunity, when my community is only 20 years away from a civil war. Where so many young people died."
Mayor Patterson-Howard: But this is what we're seeing. Because of the proliferation of illegal guns, crime guns, that are in our community. These crime guns are killing our young people. They are readily available. In some neighborhoods, you can buy a gun as quickly as you can buy a loaf of bread. When we're talking about Black women... Because I'm a Black woman. I'm proud to be a Black woman. 45% of Black women who are being killed in America are being killed by gun violence. There are over 4.5 million right now in this country who are alive who have been threatened with a gun. Whether it's going to the store, whether it's coming from work, or whether it's in their own home by an intimate partner. And so the availability of guns is what drives gun violence. Not just mental health, but the availability of guns. This is something that we have to address. And so AAMA is excited to stand side by side with Mayors Against Illegal Guns and other organizations as we address gun violence in our communities and as we really, really take this fight and this argument to deal with the gun industry, who is profiting off of the pain that we're experiencing in our communities day by day. I look forward to our continued work. Let's get to work and let's get it done. No more apologies.
McGuire: We'll now hear from one of the key facilitators of today's summit, Mayor Quinton Lucas of Kansas City.
Missouri Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas: Good afternoon to all of you. I think what you're seeing today from mayors is us declaring... finally, ultimately... that we are tired of reacting. We are tired of reacting to legislatures that aren't willing to do the work to stop gun violence. We are tired of waiting for Congress. We are tired of looking for solutions, whether they be in Washington or our state capitals. The solutions will be found in mayors’ office and in cities throughout the country through a few key steps.
Mayor Lucas: One, collaboration is key. That's why we thank Mayor Adams. That's why we thank the entire team and set of mayors who are here today. Because we know us working together... not just among mayors, but federal agencies, law enforcement, so many others... is key to solving this problem. Second is transparency. When you look at the list to my right, this is not us trying to just say something to call people out. What we're very simply saying is these are the facts. When somebody is killed, they are killed by someone who's using a Glock. They are killed by someone who's using this type of firearm. We shouldn't divorce these situations from each other. We need to make sure that the stream of firearms coming into our community is stopped.
Mayor Lucas: And then the third thing in addition to collaboration and transparency that you are hearing from mayors all around the country is action. We are taking action against bad actors in the gun industry. In my city and New York City, in Baltimore and others, we are suing those who are involved in illegal trafficking, those who are committing violations of our federal gun laws. And state gun laws, for that matter. We are making sure that they hear from all of us. And we are making sure that, no matter how long the battle is, we will continue to wage it each and every day so our communities can be safer. We are tired of our hearts being broken, of our communities' hearts being broken, by every different tragedy. As you've seen around America, although many talk about big cities alone, it's not just us. It's small towns. It's suburban communities. It's parades that are interrupted by gun violence.
Mayor Lucas: Mayors today are saying no more. I'm proud to stand with these organizations. I'm proud to stand with Everytown. Because we agree that being proactive, saying no more, taking action, and working together is the way that we can turn around this problem so that we no longer have statistics not just like that Mayor Patterson-Howard mentioned, but this statistic, which as a father, breaks my heart. That the leading cause of death for our children is firearms. I don't want that country for my son. I don't want that city for my son. We have to do better. And I'm proud that we're committed to doing better. Thank you.
McGuire: As you've heard, the focus of today's summit was on gun manufacturers and their role in this crisis. But in the process of that discussion, we cannot lose sight of or turn our eyes away from the voices of the victims and of gun violence survivors. So, we're very fortunate today to have with us Trenelle Gabay, herself a gun violence survivor and the founder of the Carey Gabay Foundation.
McGuire: Now, finally, we'll hear from the host of today's summit, Mayor Eric Adams.
Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you, and I want to thank Ms. Gabay. I remember the day when her husband was murdered and how she has turned pain into purpose and has continued to push a responsible way of dealing with the over proliferation of guns in our cities across America. Today, the mayors came together with the energy of collaboration, coordination, and mobilization, and we want clear plans and steps to dam each one of the many rivers that are feeding the gun violence in our cities. It was not lost on us. It didn't matter if you were from a Southern state or a Northern state, the West Coast or East Coast, there was the same issue facing us. Too many guns in the hands of too many people carrying out dangerous actions in our cities. All of us can exchange stories of speaking with family members and loved ones. Yesterday, leaving the crime scene of a 14 year old child that was shot and speaking with his mother, we've heard those cries so often over and over again.
Mayor Adams: And it's not unique just to our municipalities. It's not unique to our cities. Mayors are on the front lines of this crisis that's facing America and we know that the help must come from every arm of government. That includes the new recently appointed head of ATF who will be visiting our city, but it also includes our state houses and our local city council chambers. It's a collaboration of prosecutors, of judges in every arm of the criminal justice system to deal with some of the immediate issues we're facing, but also to prevent some of the long term impacts that are causing some of the violence and causing young people in particular to continue to participate in violence. We believe there are several dams that we must build. One, social media, another hidden hand that is fueling much of the retaliatory violence and even some of the initial actions.
Mayor Adams: Two, the $9 billion industry of gun manufacturers who have made a decision they're going to put profit over our public safety and they have remained removed from the questions. They're no different than the cigarette manufacturers of yesteryears who stated year after year, knowing their product produced a dangerous outcome, continued to lie and hide behind the facts. We are not going to allow that to happen anymore. Number three which is just as important, we know that we have to share information. The transparency of data and information is something that we are agreeing on and we're going to use our local municipalities to share the information of how a gun is born and how it dies and how people die in between. That sharing of information has been lost throughout the years. The presentation we received today from the local ATF SAC, special agent in charge, is a starting point for us and we are going to go back through AMAA and also through the United States Conference of Mayors to talk about how do we continue that sharing of information?
Mayor Adams: We must have an all hands on deck moment. That's where we are. This epidemic of violence is sweeping our country. And in general, it is hurting every community, but specifically the users of guns and the victims of guns are overwhelmingly Black and brown and we cannot ignore the racial element to this epidemic. And as mayors, largely mayors of colors who are leading big cities, we are not going to ignore the crises that are in front of us. Gun violence has sucked the air out of the room of all of the issues we are facing. The prerequisite to prosperity is public safety and justice and the absence of public safety is preventing our cities from moving forward. And so I'm proud to be here with these mayors. We talked about this issue over and over again. We made the decision to come together and the head of AMAA stated that he will co-convene with Everytown who's helping us with legal aspects as well as data to come with the right partnership that we have not witnessed in the past.
Mayor Adams: It's a combination of government, private entities, as well as responsible manufacturers to do what's right. We're going to use our leverage and buying power, we're going to use our bully pulpit, we're going to use our legislative arms to attack this problem head on to address the issues of gun violence. Guns is a product, it's a consumer product, and that product is used for a particular task. The clear plan, the business model is to get guns in the hands of as many people as possible. Guns have a purpose, to kill. That product is to kill and it is doing what the intended purpose was. Now we must make sure that intended purpose, that product is not continuing to devastate our communities. And again, I want to thank my partners and my fellow mayors that have come from across the country to talk about this similar crisis we're having in our cities.
Question: Thank you. Mr. Mayor. On the gun manufacturers that the focus of the meeting was about today, we're hearing obviously that a disproportionate number of the guns that are being found in the streets and crimes are coming from these companies. You haven't spoken so much, though, about what exactly it is that these companies are doing and what's incumbent on them to change. What are they doing wrong or what are they not doing that's resulting in so many of their guns [inaudible]?
Mayor Adams: That's a great question. One area we looked at is advertisement. One advertisement was on during Valentine's Day and it alluded to actually using a gun in a domestic violence. We are looking at targeting. When you have a product, you have a sales and marketing team and how do you sell that product? Do you focus on young people? Do you focus on particular groups? Do you focus on people who have mental health illnesses? So we are looking at how are you selling your product? What purpose? What advertisement? What is your focus group? Because as in any product, you look to see who are you going to sell that product to?
Mayor Adams: And then technology, it was mentioned by one of the mayors. When iPhones were being stolen and people were taking the passcodes and the outrage came about, we are now able to disable those iPhones. Why are we preventing to allow technology to disable guns? Why are they standing in the way of that and why they are not moving forward to put that technology in place? And so responsible manufacturers will create a product that responsible users can use. And this is not a movement to state responsible gun ownership should not happen. I own three guns. This is a movement dealing with illegal guns that are getting in the hands of those who are using them illegally.
Mayor Lucas: Yeah, I'll just briefly note, and a few things. Some of the lawsuits that we filed in Kansas City, in New York City, in Baltimore, lay it out. There are several actions that industry actors are not taking that violate law. First is compliance with federal regulations, making sure that you're actually properly selling, reporting sales, et cetera, and doing necessary background checks. A number of producers actually aren't doing those sorts of things, sometimes even at the larger level. Another area relates to distribution. If you put something out into the market, making sure that it's going to good actors not being used for other means is something that's important. An example will be opioid litigation nationwide. You saw with that a number of cities, a number of jurisdictions actually were able to file a suit because those manufacturers weren't making sure that they weren't going to bad actors, that they were going to pharmacies that were producing far more than they needed. Those types of things are part of it.
Mayor Lucas: And then finally, looking at public nuisance as a theory. The fact that a flood of guns whether it be from a distributor or the initial manufacturer can lead to certain harms within communities. That's something that we've had in court surviving a motion to dismiss in my city and we'll look forward to exploring that in more American cities along the way.
Question: And to follow up on that, and this is really for either of the [inaudible] council, during the conversations today, was there any specific issue such as you just mentioned where federal regulations are not being followed? Was there one issue that was zeroed in on for potential for future legal action by either one of your cities or all of your cities? Was there-
Mayor Lucas: So the list I laid out is some of that discussion. I think it's really all of the above actually. So we met for five or six hours in connection with it and so to say what the specific suit is, we have several of them so far. I think what we're looking at what we can do is how can we work in concert? How can we make sure that there is great pressure on the industry coming not just from a few cities, but from all of us saying that enough is enough?
Question: Yes, hi. Mr. Mayor, you talked about how unfortunately most of the victims are Black and brown Hispanics [inaudible] and our communities who are watching us every day following all these incidents. I was wondering if any of the mayors has brought up an initiative that they might think would work here that they have put in place there where people who are Hispanic or African Americans have benefited from that that you could [inaudible]?
Mayor Scott: I think one of the things that we have to all understand when we're talking about gun violence, individuals, particularly our youth and our young adults, are picking up the guns because it's a lack of hope. And so what you've seen across the nation, many of us mayors have utilized the American Rescue Plan act dollars to focus on community violence reduction plans. Whether that's hospital based intervention, mental health, social services, things of that nature to ensure that our youth are not picking up a gun and then taking a life. And most of the times what we're seeing, the crime, the gun violence is not the years of yesteryear, the mid 90s. What we're seeing now is not as much gang activity, not even as much drug activity. Not to say that does not happen, however, we're seeing more acquaintance violence when it comes to that situation, and then also to a lack of development. [Inaudible]-
Question: I'm sorry, you said acquaintance violence? And then what do you mean by that?
Mayor Scott: Acquaintance violence is — I know Mayor Eric Adams and he owes me $20 and I go in the middle of a party and say, you owe $20. He doesn't like that. He's embarrassed. He comes back, he shoots me in the head. I mean, that literally happens day in and day out across our nation's cities. It's really unfortunately that simple but yet so complex.
Question: [Inaudible] component you would say?
Maryland Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott: Just add to that one. Mayor Scott from Baltimore. I think that what we were very clear about today is that it has to be a both end approach, right? For us, we have to do all the things that my fellow Mayor Scott was mentioning on focusing in those communities. But when you're talking about this violence that has been in these communities for so long and has been exacerbated by the pandemic, we have to zero in. We have to know and use data to see who are the people [inaudible] focus deterrence model that are most likely to be the victims of the perpetrators of this violence and focus on them in every way.
Mayor Scott: That means getting in the resources they need that can their life, but also being there on the other end to say, if you do not, we are not going to allow you to terrorize these communities that are overwhelmingly Black and brown continuously and working all together. Law enforcement, all of our service providers, every arm of all of our city governments is the only way. Because this is not the 1990s. This is not something that our police officers are going to just know that someone's going to be mad about someone stealing their girlfriend off Instagram, and someone's going to shoot somebody. We have to deal with this on both ends of the spectrum. Make sure that we find out where every gun came from and who’s using it, how they got it. So everybody from top to bottom can be held accountable.
Question: Mayor Adams, may I hear more about these information sharing efforts, what the buy-in is for our national database and from anyone on a more personal note. I've just been struck by how we've become experts at gun violence and gun manufacturers. The personal toll of having to focus so much of your mayoralty on that rally foundation.
Mayor Adams: That's a great question. And we all share that. I say over and over again, that gun violence has sucked the oxygen out of the room. And when I speak with my colleagues and my fellow mayors and hearing about what they're doing around cyber security, what they're doing about housing, how they're dealing with COVID and turn around the economy. What's at the top of the mind, rightfully of our constituency is the violence. And it takes an emotional toll when every other night you are at a hospital seeing another family member, when you stop at these crime scenes and you see the blood on the sidewalk, and you know that you have to attend that funeral. Throughout my entire seven months in office, I started off with having two officers slain, Officers Rivera and Mora. People say, well, the honeymoon is over.
Mayor Adams: I was never married, it was a battle from the beginning. It was never a honeymoon. We never had a date where we were able to just continue to highlight the success that we've been having. And so all of these mayors, we live this every day. Our phones are going off every day in our cities. And so we believe that we have to get this under control and we are laser focused on getting this under control. That is what we're saying today.
Mayor Adams: Information sharing is crucial. We had a great presentation, as I stated from the special agent in charge of the ATF here. And he rolled out how we could utilize information sharing within our cities. For far too long, Washington through Congress has gotten in the way of ATF sharing information. There's a way we can do it now within our cities, by having an information sharing agreement that I learned because we're doing it here in the State with Governor Hochul, and now we are going to empower our fellow mayors in something specific that they're going to take back. And by having that information sharing, we can trace that gun. We can trace the person who purchased that gun to see if there was a history of him or her purchasing guns, how it arrived on our streets. That information sharing is crucial.
Mayor Adams: It allows us to get ahead of the problem. And by having a centralized database of showing, where did the shooting happen? Who purchased that gun? Where was the gun stolen from? How many other shootings that gun was involved in and what cities or state was it involved in? This is a major, major new weapon that we are going to use in dealing with gun violence. It's something that has not been used for the most part before. This is really the first time. We started here in New York State. And we're looking to partner with all of our mayors to do the same thing. This would allow us to bypass whatever restrictions are done on a federal level. It would allow us to do it on cities, by cities, where we see it. And it's an unbelievable opportunity for us to go after the shooters, the guns, the manufacturers, the illegal dealers of guns, particularly the secondhand dealers. And it really, it is empowering us with a new tool that was not used before, and we cannot overestimate how good this new tool is.
Question: Mr. Mayor, how many cities have agreed to sign on to the information sharing? And when do you expect to begin? And then separately, there was thought about bringing legal cases against gun manufacturers and you guys cited the opioid manufacturers and the former cigarette or school cigarette companies. Both of those were consumer fraud cases. People lied about cigarettes being addictive. People lied about opioids being addictive. What's the theory of the case when it comes to that?
Mayor Adams: And, the legal minds are better than I to come up with the exact theory. But there is one part of the, if you remember the cigarette case, those smoking gun memos. I am sure if you start looking in desk drawers and using the power of subpoenas, I'm sure you're going to find information on how particular groups were targeted. Knowingly targeting a group that is using guns in a harmful way, the legal minds going to sit down, our chief counsel's going to meet with others to find out exactly what laws civilly that we believe are violated that continues to feed this violence that we're seeing. And so that's the job of the attorneys. We're open to get it done.
Mayor Adams: With the information sharing. This is the first time the mayors here have heard the presentation. The head of AAMA, we're going to present it to all the other mayors of the African American Mayors Association. I'm going to speak with the head of the US mayors, Conference of Mayors, Miami's mayor. And we are going to start the process of trying to get as many cities as possible to sign on
Mayor Adams: It's already on. And so the governor allowed us to do it here within the state. This is the first state that it is statewide, but the goal is to get as many mayors in as possible. And this was some first time hearing about this ability to do the tracing.
Question: I got a couple questions about what happens immediately from here. I know you folks met for about five to six hours, but what's the step now, are you going to reach out to each one of these manufacturers, presenting your data, get a meeting with them? And if that doesn't work, at what point do you file this lawsuit?
Mayor Adams: Yeah, what we did today, we started with the group of mayors who are departing to catch flights. Because you can't be out of your city too long. We started with coming with a game plan. We listed those dams, those rivers. We went to dam. Now we're going to break off into groups to make sure that we put those processes in place. And we are going to circle back with a formidable plan that's going to include a multitude of things we want to do as different mayors. That's going to be a combination, going to be a combination of using the legal apparatus, our lawmakers, using technology. So there's a combination of things that we're going to do. Today was to sit down and get on with information. And we're going to continue to follow up. This is not a one and done. This is something that we are laser focused on.
Question: Did that involve talking to, for instance, tourists? Sometime this week and saying, hey, listen, we all got together. We see how you're targeting. We see that your weapons are involved in, let's say the seven year old [inaudible] on the street corner somewhere.
Mayor Adams: Everything is on the table. Everything is on the table and we're not leaving anything off the table.
Question: Almost more specific drill on that question. You mentioned buying power, obviously. NYPD huge, collectively huge amounts of weaponry you all purchased as cities. Have you had conversations with Glock and Smith and Wesson, I believe account for some weapons in some departments. We're not going to buy from you if these numbers [inaudible].
Mayor Adams: Those are some of the things that came up to Dan in conversation. If you were to look at Topeka, Kansas saying, I'm not going to buy from you. People would be dismissive for that. But if you take all of our mayors of our large cities and start engaging in a conversation about our buying power, people are going to look closely at that. And those are part of the conversations we had today.
Question: I had a follow up with the mayor both before you spoke about already being on the system. Can you talk about what if any impact it's had how many shootings you managed to utilize it with? If there have been any arrests or closures or prosecutions based off the information?
Mayor Scott: Yeah, I think that we've done it, it's actually one of the first things I did is work with Every Town and our folks who create this, now two of its kind data system. And what we've seen is our ability to track. And I think it's important for folks to know it's not just about the guns, but also the bullets to track every single solitary one of them. We have been able to bring gun trafficking cases. We had a big one last summer with a gentleman who had 40 of these Polymer80, ability to create them and other weapons. And we're going to continue to do that. Working with our local federal partners, working with our state partners. Because it is important for us to again, do this on every aspect, focusing in on those folks that we know are committing those acts of violence and holding them accountable, but also the people that are fueling these guns.
Mayor Scott: So we provided the data today that over 60% of the guns that we seize in the city of Baltimore come from other states, right? And over 80% of the guns that we seize in Baltimore come from either other counties in Maryland and other states combined. So we have to understand that gun trafficking, straw purchasing is something that is driving violence in cities around the country. And the only way that we're going to get at that is that we start to hold people accountable in that way.
Question: Just if I could follow up on that. You were talking about it playing a role in closing previous cases. Did this information, sharing arrangement with the city and with everything-
Mayor Scott: Absolutely.
Question: How did it help close?
Mayor Scott: So I'll give you... If you think about not even just gun cases, when you think about folks that are being shot, right. We actually had a police officer shot, Officer Keona Holley, and we're able to see that in that case, there was two, two back to back murders where we know that the same gun was used. We knew that because we're able to trace that data. And when you're actually using the partnership to go through in any cases to go through and see that, oh, this weapon that was used in this shooting or this discharging is also related to this murder, is also related to this nonfatal shooting. It makes your case stronger that not just that individual, that individual to hold it obviously is going to commit multiple acts of violence. But as we heard today and said today that we got to go deeper. How did that gun get into this person's hands? And who did it come from? Thank you.
Mayor Adams: No. I think that Nolan's question was a good question in fact that as we were talking about closing these cases, you have a person that approaches a gun, four guns in Alabama. He comes up to New York. Those guns are used in crimes, and then we start tracking. We noticed that why is every gun... He goes back down, purchases eight more. Why is every gun this person is purchasing constantly finds its way on the street? Without sharing the information, you're not connecting him to the shootings that took place and we can't stop them from purchasing. But when you knock on that door and notice 12 of the guns you purchased, they all happen to be stolen. And they all used in crimes. Now we are watching you. That's what that information sharing allows us to do. We have been fighting this alone. We've been believing that, hey, my city is having a problem. Now by us coming together, we are realizing that our cities are having a problem and we are no longer fighting this alone in silos.
Question: So, that cop in Baltimore will be able to punch, get a serial number off of a gun and separate from going to the ATF to be able to punch it into a computer system there and be able to see if it's come up in any cases here, how is this going to work?
Mayor Adams: And that is what this new weapon that we have, exactly what you just stated. We got a gun was used in a homicide in the 44 Precinct. We now would be able to trace the entire life of that gun. The ballistics, which shooting it was involved in, who purchased that gun, who else had that gun? So we are now going to be armed with information, not only here in New York State, but with the information sharing agreement that gun could have been used in Alabama. Now we could connect who purchased, where that gun was stolen from. We may find someone that purchased four guns, all of your guns were stolen from your car, the same report, the same things, something is wrong. So this is the first time that we are going to have the ability of not having to wait on the ATF.
Mayor Adams: We are now going to have the ability as mayors to share our information. Now we want the ATF, but we are empowered now. We're no longer standing by waiting. And now that data that we get from that serial number, or that arrest that we make is going to allow us to connect the entire life of that gun. That's a huge, huge weapon we now have in our arsenal.
Mayor Adams: Yes. Yes. Thank you. Thank you. Good to see you all.
Question: I have one more on topic.
Mayor Adams: Yeah.
Question: I know you mentioned that these guns are a product. You have this product, what could you do to compel these gun manufacturers to not sell this product? Because even if they don't advertise, let's say that Valentine's Day advertisement kind of goes the way that the Joe Camel did. [Inaudible] I remember Joe Camel.
Mayor Adams: Good question.
Question: You don't see those anymore.
Mayor Adams: Right.
Question: So if there's no advertisements, if you still have people that want a gun, they're going to go get a gun. So let's say you take the advertisements out, isn't that a drop in the bucket? And how do you get these gun manufacturers to not sell as many guns as they want?
Mayor Adams: I want you to be clear. I am not of the mindset that people who are responsible gun owners for responsible reasons should not be prevented from owning a gun. I own three guns. I go do target shooting. So that is not what I am saying. I don't believe that's what we're hearing from our mayors. It is the illegal guns is targeting... If your business model and business plan is to target people who are not suitable to carry a gun, then that's a problem. I think gun manufacturers could be more responsible. Our automobiles had to change things to make you safer. If we take the laws that are currently in place for gun manufacturers that prevent them from being scrutinized, as we heard in one Florida law, that they are attempting to pass, you cannot even question gun manufacturers at all, unless you are liable for a substantial penalty.
Mayor Adams: One case we heard from one mayor stated that, I think it was St. Louis. If a person believe you violated their Second Amendment right, and you're a police officer and you take their gun for some reason, you could be sued for $50,000 per case. So when you look at these different barriers to have responsible gun ownership, this is what we're going after. We're going after the irresponsible actions of putting illegal guns on our street. This is not a battle against responsible gun ownership. This is not what this battle is about.
Mayor Adams: It is the over proliferation of illegal guns and the behaviors of manufacturers and just everything has evolved in our country, but gun safety. That's the only thing that has not evolved. If we would have used these same methods, we would still have Camel selling cigarettes. We would still say children should not wear seat belts and car seats. We would still have all of these other products that were regulated. If we would've remained and didn't regulate those products, they would've been taking lives. We have not regulated guns in our country, which is remarkable when you think about it.
Question: Thank you. And I'm going to ask one more off topic and I promise [inaudible]. This more going to be a little bit more for the chief counsel.
Mayor Adams: Yep.
Question: You were mentioning or there was a previous question mentioning consumer fraud as that being the area of law that was pursued in cigarette cases. Is there one specific area of law that you're thinking is most applicable in going after gun [inaudible]?
McGuire: So the theory by which we initiated our recent lawsuit against five ghost gun manufacturers was under public nuisance theory. That is the legal theory. There's both a public nuisance statute, there's also a common law that has developed with respect to public nuisance. What that essentially says is, you can't create a set of conditions that are unhealthy to the public, and if you do so, you may be liable. Those have been used broadly in many different ways. They've been used with respect to many different types of conduct over history by local governments. So that is one of the tried and true paths. There may be other paths as well, where we're exploring. As the mayor has said, everything is on the table. But public nuisance right now forms the core of the strategy. That's the legal term of art, if that's what you're getting at.
Question: Thank you. And then off topic. We're hearing from sources in the city council that you and your council are looking to restore, to reverse rather, some of those DOE cuts that made it into your original budget. Can you explain what's going on there? Or $250 million is what we're hearing is going to be restored. How did this come about?
Mayor Adams: No, I think whomever told you that, whoever's leaking... I mean, you have a meeting nowadays, people are tweeting right from the meeting. Adrianne and I have been talking since before the budget was passed. We have been talking, we have not stopped talking about this issue and some other issues around this. She's a great partner. There is no agreement thus far. If something happened while I was in this meeting, I'm not aware of it. And I think I'm the last person to say if there's an agreement or not.
Mayor Adams: I've had fruitful conversations with the speaker of about how do we deal with the crises that we're having in education around the decreasing enrollment and some other real financial crises. So whatever we do, we have to keep that in mind, and these are tough decisions, but that's what is expected. I have to make tough decisions to make sure that, as we deal with this economic crisis our city is facing, that we make the right decision, but to answer directly, as of this time, there is no deal that was made.
Question: If a deal was made, because I know you've spoken about the fiscal reality of trying to reverse these cuts. If the cuts are reversed, what's going to be the consequence? What do you fear will happen from a fiscal perspective as a result?
Mayor Adams: Everyone talks about these federal dollars, Chris, but they're not understanding these federal dollars are going to run out. So if the federal dollars run out and we keep pretending as though those federal dollars are always going to be there and we're not getting money from Albany, then all we're doing is trying to deny the reality that we are facing. And those federal COVID dollars are going to run out, but we have even a bigger problem. Because of our decrease in enrollment, the federal government may change the funding that we receive.
Mayor Adams: It may sound good, as a good soundbite that people are making, but it would be irresponsible if I ignore the real crises we're having in school funding. I can't do that because then I'm setting up our city for failure in the future. So we have to be smart. We have to make the right decisions and it's not going to be the popular decisions, but we have to make the right financial decisions.
Question: Now Mr. Mayor, when it comes to the school funding discussion, most of the attention has been focused on the give or take $200 million going directly to classrooms? Is there a red line for you? Is it no new money or is it that money could be reallocated in the DOE budget to fill that $200 million gap or that there would have to be cuts elsewhere in the department?
Mayor Adams: Right, right. Good question. So here is what we have been talking about, we being City Hall, is that there are dollars that are out there that are restricted dollars. That may say, you could only use it on some particular program during COVID. You could only use it on COVID prevention. So if there's a way to alleviate those restrictions and say that, you know what? Instead of only using it on COVID prevention, you could use it on the afterschool program that you want.
Mayor Adams: I think there's flexibility to do that. There are no new dollars, there are no new dollars. It's about relieving some of the restrictions on dollars that were allocated already, because principals are given funding to run their schools. Some of that funding is earmarked for a specific reason. If we could come up with a way of saying, instead of you just having to use it on that specific reason, that you could use it for something else that you want to free you up, that's the conversation we could have. But people are saying, "Are you going find $250 million?" No, there's no $250 million to find.
Question: I wanted to ask about crime in the city.
Mayor Adams: Yeah.
Question: When you look at the shooting numbers and the homicide numbers to date, those are down.
Mayor Adams: Yes.
Question: Burglaries are still way high. Grand larcenies are way high. Grand larceny autos are way high. Is there anything specific that you folks are doing to tackle those specific crimes? I know you have the neighborhood safety teams, you have the gun units and they're focused on getting guns. What about preventing those other violent crimes?
Mayor Adams: Well, I said it today. I don't know who, somebody sent me an article that was written on this. It's the mindset, those crimes you're talking about. I think Commissioner Sewell did an amazing job of showing the duplication of the offenders. You know? Catch release, repeat. I mean, what kind of criminal justice system is that? You make an arrest on Monday for grand larceny, the person is out on Tuesday. He does it again on Thursday. It is as though, why the numbers are going up, because the catch, release, repeat, these guys are saying, "This criminal justice system is a joke."
Mayor Adams: I mean, they're saying we can do this as much as we want. You got some of these guys that are arrested over and over and over again. So you have the police officer out there. You know? Officer John, I arrested him. Then Officer John is on his beat on Tuesday. And he says, "What are you doing out already?" How do you fight against that? We are making the arrests. We are doing our deal. There's a relationship in this deal. The relationship is, "Hey, police officer, make arrests." Then the other relationship is prosecute, prosecute. Judge makes the determination if someone should stay in or not. And laws make sure people don't get out already. There's a relationship to public safety, and I'm saying that far too many people are not fulfilling their relationship. But we are going to continue to go after, John does a burglary, we're going to lock him up. John does a grand larceny, we're going to lock him up. We're going to continue to do our role, but everyone else must do their role.
Question: One more question. When you're briefed in the morning, as part of that briefing, you've also seen how many people were released and rearrested for the same offense.
Mayor Adams: That's what-
Question: Is that part of your…
Mayor Adams: That's what the commissioner does. And you know what? I'm glad you raised that, we're going to continue to highlight that. We're going to continue to highlight how many repeated offenders we have, because I think that if I have one failure I believe we failed out at, we failed to really show the public how much these laws and actions are hurting our public safety. People tend to believe, "Okay, grand larcenies have gone up. What are you doing about it, police commissioner? What are you doing about it, mayor?" Because they don't realize how many arrests we're making in these areas, and how many repeated offenders are going back out after we make arrests. I cannot articulate to you clear enough how there's a body of people in this city that do not take us seriously about crime fighting.
Mayor Adams: They just feel as though, "You're telling us that breaking the law is a bad thing, but every time we do it, nothing happens to us." You can't run a city that way and you can't have it where your criminal justice partners don't see the urgency on the ground that we are seeing. What we're doing, everything from illegal use of license plates, to those who are repeated individuals who steal in stores, to the motorcycles that we're going after and the ATVs that are illegal.
Mayor Adams: We're dealing with these quality of life issues. But, hey, if I take that motorcycle or that ATV and crush it, and then you're able to get another one and do something dangerous and there's no repercussion, it just sends the wrong message. We're sending the wrong message for those who want to do harm in our city. And it's just a small number, that's the strangest thing about it. We're not talking about, the overwhelming number of New Yorkers are doing what's right. A small number of people have hijacked our city, but we're going to keep going after them. We're not going to give up. We're never going to become daunted. We're going to stay focused until everyone else catches up with us. Thank you.