As 2020 has brought the coronavirus pandemic, civil unrest and dwindling public resources in poor neighborhoods, New York City has seen a sharp rise in gun violence. More than 1,730 people have been shot as of Nov. 29, double the number for the same period a year ago and a level of gun violence not seen in 15 years, the New York Times reports. Murders have surged nearly 40 percent, to 420 this year from 304 last year. Police say feuds between street crews over turf and drug deals are driving most of the violence. A single gang feud in Brooklyn is blamed for 26 deaths. Authorities said they are grappling with a deep-rooted gun culture in poorer neighborhoods, where some young men carry firearms not just to commit crimes but also to protect themselves. “People who want to carry these guns, they are a recipe for disaster,” said Rodney Harrison, NYPD chief of detectives. “Their mind-set is really detrimental to the city.”
A study by the Center for Court Innovation found that young people who carry guns often say it is because they do not feel protected by authority figures: their parents, civic leaders, the police. “They feel like they have to protect themselves, because the city and the infrastructure has completely abandoned them,” said researcher Elise White. More than 80 percent of the 330 interviewed said they have been shot at or have fired at someone. Nearly 90 percent said a family member or friend had been victim of gun violence. Many obtained illegal guns when they were as young as 14. In November, gun arrests more than doubled to 484 from 228 in the same month last year. Arrests are up 22 percent compared with last year. “We want to identify the individuals pulling the trigger and recruiting younger people and bring them into custody,” Harrison said.