New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, he of the COVID nursing home disaster, the $5.1M “look at how brilliantly I managed the pandemic” book deal, and nearly a dozen sexual harassment allegations, has boldly declared a state of emergency over “gun violence” in New York.

Not crime, or criminal violence, but “gun violence.”

Why might this be?

The spike in crime in NY, and especially in NYC, directly correlates to a laundry list of policy and cultural changes. Bail and sentence guideline reforms have created a revolving door, where criminals know that they’ll be back on the street within hours of being arrested. DAs are not prosecuting some crimes that even libertarians believe should be prosecuted. Cops, knowing this, when not to bother arresting someone. Cops, facing a culture that has tarred all of them, bad and good, as racist and irredeemable, are far more defensive and selective in their duties (including an unwritten “three steps” rule when chasing a suspect). And so on and so on.

If you want to figure out why something has changed, figure out what changes led to that change, and address those.

But, no, we’ll have none of that, no introspection, no “progressive policies have backfired, let’s revisit them” self-aware reflection. These policies overlap libertarian reforms (see: victimless crimes, nuisance laws), but they don’t mirror them, in that the libertarian recognizes that government exists to protect citizens’ rights, not ignore violations of them because criminals are just misunderstood or lashing out against oppression. Rather than simply stanching law enforcement and prosecutorial action against those who don’t deserve it, the progressives have let actual criminals have free rein.

Instead of revisiting policies gone wrong, we get the standard politician’s play: make it about a pet issue, no matter if that issue is of no relevance to the problem.

Cuomo, in liberal New York (no matter that the wide swathes of non-urban New York State are pretty red and pretty pro-gun, all the money is in the blue cities), has declared himself a proud gun-grabber. His SAFE Act, which accomplished nothing other than a partial judicial slap-down, some creativity from the manufacturers of modern sporting rifles, and widespread civil disobedience (only 5% of the estimated hundreds of thousands of AR-15 format rifles in NY have been registered, per SAFE Act requirements), is a point of personal pride. In making this emergency about “gun crime,” he’s serving his agenda.

In more ways than one.

This sort of thing is a play at showing “leadership” in the face of his multiple scandals and ahead of a re-election effort next year (he clearly wants the fourth term his father failed to achieve, despite thousands of dead senior citizens at his hand and despite his multiple Me Too problems).

It also is conveniently timed to coincide with the nomination of former cop Eric Adams as the Democratic Candidate for NYC mayor, who ran on a pro-public-safety platform. The voters told the political machine that they wanted crime addressed more than a progressive agenda advanced.

Then there’s a pending Supreme Court case that Cuomo must certainly be worried about. NYSRPA v. Corlett challenges the “may-issue” doctrine in New York, wherein the State has discretion in issuing concealed-carry permits, and can deny an applicant for no reason.

Most of the nation has adopted either a “shall-issue” rule, where anyone not disqualified from gun ownership (e.g. felony conviction) must be issued one upon application, or a “constitutional-carry” rule, where if you can legally own a gun, you can legally carry it concealed. New York is one of only 9 states to hold onto this “we get to decide if you get to carry” power, and there is more than a passing chance that this case, with a Court that tilts “conservative,” will knock it down.

Cuomo’s implied assertion that the crime spike is about guns may be as much about this Court case as anything else. He has precedent, after all: his fellow New York State public servant, Senator Chuck Schumer, threatened the Court just last year, and two years ago, five Democratic Senators threatened to pack the Court if it ruled the ‘wrong way’ on a previous gun case. One out of NYC, coincidentally (or not). NY’s other Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, who was pro-gun as an upstate Congresswoman before she turned anti-gun as a Senator, was one of the five.

A cynic might imagine that all this ‘gun-crime’ posturing is all about guns and none about crime, no matter that there’s no correlation between legal gun ownership and crime. A cynic might imagine that, despite four decades of movement in a pro-gun-rights direction at the state level, and a corresponding substantial decrease in gun crime, the Democrats’ obsession with restricting gun rights. The Biden White House calls “Gun Violence” a “Public Health Epidemic,” rather than a symptom of cultural breakdown (which might draw blame on their party).

So, Cuomo’s making the crime spike about one of his pet issues, so he can preen, so he can point fingers of blame away from his team, and so he can send a message to the Court not to mess with his power over his citizens.

There’ll be some of photo-ops where they display the “arsenals” recovered from some gangbangers, some massaged statistics, some high-visibility police actions, some legal actions against gun manufacturers, lots of “guns r bad, mmmkay” sound bites and editorials… and no real change in crime from any of this.

However, if Mayor-presumptive Eric Adams does manage to institute policy and cultural changes that reduce crime, rest assured that Cuomo will take credit for it all, and point at his declaration as the start of “taking the streets back.”

Just in time for his re-election effort.

If the voters fall for it, well, they’ll get what they deserve. As H.L. Mencken put it, “good and hard.”

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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