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It’s beginning to look like going soft on crime — especially juvenile crime — wasn’t such a hot idea. Is it time to reform New York’s “reforms”?
Obviously, it is.
And a reasonable place to begin is with those concerning children who bear adult arms — and who use them with deadly abandon.
The problem is stark and clear, the most recent example being three murders in The Bronx — teenagers killed by other teenagers in what police say were gang-related tit-for-tat shootings of a sort not seen regularly in New York since the ’90s.
That is, not since the last time New York grew tired of the bloody consequences of lax law enforcement and concentrated its prodigious energies on protecting all of its citizens.
The results were spectacular — a city so secure that over time safe streets came to be seen as nature’s way. But complacency set in; activists and their apologists chipped away the policies and practices keeping criminals at bay — and then the dominos began to fall.
Perhaps most relevant right now, and among the most corrosive, is the 2017 “Raise the Age” law, a statute strongly backed by Gov. Cuomo that reset the age of criminal responsibility in New York from 16 to 18.
The result was entirely predictable — more 16- and 17-year-olds on the streets with guns. And, fast forwarding to this week in The Bronx, three teenagers dead allegedly at the hands of other teenagers — casualties in what one cop described to this newspaper as a “major gang war.”
“They don’t go to jail,” said a prosecutor. “They do robberies, get in fights and carry guns.”
But teen gangs are part of the New York fabric, you say? Remember “West Side Story”?
Of course. But that’s nonsense — a Glock 19 is not a zip gun, it’s a military-grade sidearm, and today’s gang fights are over drug turf, not basketball-court sovereignty.
Indeed, it is because of the relative immunity of 16- and 17-year-olds that they often are recruited by senior dealers for turf-security duties — an entirely predictable side effect of Raise the Age legislation.
And it is difficult to imagine anything more potentially lethal than a teenager with an attitude, a gun and a belief in his own immortality.
That belief comes naturally; so too, attitudes. But illegal guns are not inevitable.
America’s cities are awash in them; nothing is going to change that. But New York had effective policies meant to keep them off the streets — stop-and-frisk, quality-of-life enforcement and dedicated anti-gun units among them.
One by one they fell to activist opposition, and bit by bit violent crime advanced.
Cause and effect? It’s more complicated than that — but not much more: The road to true reform leads back to the future.
Here’s hoping Mayor-Almost-Elect Eric Adams takes it.
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