Thursday, April 30, 2009

Knife killings up 50% in Big Apple

From the New York Times:
A psychotherapist in an Upper East Side office. A young woman working in a grocery store. A city bus driver behind the wheel in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, on a lunchtime route.

Each of these was featured last year in a snapshot of murder in New York City, where authorities have long been battling illegal firearms — and seeing a degree of success. But these people were killed by knives, contributing to a troubling statistic in homicides.

In 2008, even as gun killings fell, the number of killings committed with knives or other “cutting instruments” rose 50 percent in New York City, the Police Department said: to 125 from 83. Some other large cities saw no such increase last year, and police officials and experts are at a loss to explain what is either a new trend or a spike. [emphasis added]

“It is hard to say with certainty what accounts for the increase,” said Paul J. Browne, the chief spokesman for the New York Police Department.

It was possible, but hard to document, Mr. Browne said, that measures like undercover gun-trafficking investigations and interrogations, in which people arrested for lower level crimes are asked to provide information on gun cases, had led to the rise in knife killings and the drop in gun slayings.

In 2008, 292 people were shot to death in New York, down from 347 the year before, continuing a longtime slide in deaths by firearms.

Over all, homicides of all kinds rose slightly last year, to 523 from 496 in 2007, which was a 45-year low. So far in 2009, about a quarter of killings in the city have been committed with knives or other cutting instruments, about the same percentage as in 2008. But the overall homicide rate is down: 97 through April 16, the Police Department said, compared with 135 in the same period in 2008.

“We may have made it harder for killers to get their hands on guns,” said Mr. Browne. “Knives are still easily and legally acquired.” [emphasis added]
Authorities can try to curtail gun use with measures like buy-back programs, enforced licensing and undercover purchases. For the past seven years, the New York Police Department has had an amnesty program, in which people drop off guns — no questions asked — in return for cash.

But amnesty for pocket knives or steak knives is not a reasonable option, said the Rev. Darryl Frazier of Majority Baptist Church in Jamaica, Queens, where the Police Department organized a gun buy-back program this year.

“The city would go bankrupt,” he said.

Article here. Can knife control in the Big Apple be far behind? We must ban those evil "assault knives"! Do it for the children!

Note that the overall number of homicides rose last year. I guess in the mind of a New York City tyrant, er, politician, a law-abiding citizen getting stabbed and slashed to death is preferable to getting shot to death.

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