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An initiative in New York City will treat gun violence as a public health epidemic

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

New York has a new plan to reduce gun violence. Crime in the city has gone down overall, but as much of the - but as in much of the U.S., there's been an increase in youth gun violence. Here's NPR's Jasmine Garsd.

JASMINE GARSD, BYLINE: First, the good news for New Yorkers - crime in the city is down by a lot. According to the NYPD, compared to June of last year, there was 25% less burglary. Gun violence overall is also down. Now the bad news - car theft has skyrocketed, and there's been a rise in youth involved in gun violence, which is part of a larger national trend. Earlier this week, Mayor Eric Adams unveiled the city's blueprint to tackle gun violence by looking at the factors that might lead young people to fall into violent altercations.

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ERIC ADAMS: The map is clear. You do an analysis of the map, you see high gun violence. You're also going to see high unemployment. You're going to see dropout rates high. You're going to see mental health issues high.

GARSD: Another component is the lack of trust between NYPD and communities.

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ADAMS: That relationship is not severed all over the city. Some communities embrace their police because of their interactions. Other fear their police. We're going to dismantle that wall.

GARSD: The mayor is himself a former member of the force. He's often accused of over relying on NYPD enforcement. But at least on paper, that is not the plan. In an exclusive interview with NPR, New York Deputy First Mayor Sheena Wright said the idea is to focus on the root causes of gun violence.

SHEENA WRIGHT: Gun violence is a symptom of a larger issue that is really rooted in community well-being. It's rooted in kind of mental health and trauma. So by the time someone actually picks up a gun, points at someone and shoots it, there's a lot of failings that have happened before that.

GARSD: Shootings among young people often happen because of a fight that starts on social media. One major component of the plan will be to tackle those types of altercations, Wright told NPR. Other strategies include relying on trusted community members to negotiate truces and providing better access to mental health. But the fundamental problem of easy access to guns from neighboring states with less-strict laws remains.

WRIGHT: The prevalence of guns is outrageous. There are so many guns on the street, it is so easy for a young person to get their hand on a gun. A regular disagreement between young people that might be a fight is now a gun fight.

GARSD: Addressing that problem, the mayor's office has said, would require action from lawmakers across the country.

Jasmine Garsd, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Jasmine Garsd is an Argentine-American journalist living in New York. She is currently NPR's Criminal Justice correspondent and the host of The Last Cup. She started her career as the co-host of Alt.Latino, an NPR show about Latin music. Throughout her reporting career she's focused extensively on women's issues and immigrant communities in America. She's currently writing a book of stories about women she's met throughout her travels.
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