“We feed crime in America and in New York. We need to stop the feeders of crime. And then we must have an immediate response. We should create something like a JTTF — Joint Terrorism Task Force. This is what we did to fight terrorism,” Adams told host George Stephanopoulos. “Why are we ignoring the violence in the cities? You know why, George? They’re Black, brown and poor. We ignore them and we basically have thrown up our hands and stated, there is nothing we can do about it. They are wrong and I am going to show them.”
Following the interview, an Adams adviser told POLITICO that the mayoral nominee and Biden spoke about illegal guns when the president called to congratulate him on his victory. “In his phone call with Biden last week, they discussed the gun violence problem on a federal level,” said the adviser, who would only speak on background.
Adams wants New York City to have easier access to databases that list stores selling illegal handguns and individuals who traffic them into the five boroughs. Just last month, the NYPD and agents from federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced they were teaming up to tackle illegal guns.
During his campaign, he also called for a partnership with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey at transit hubs to track firearms entering the city.
On Sunday morning Adams told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” that Democrats’ priorities on gun laws at the federal level are misguided, saying they’ve focused too much on banning assault rifles in the aftermath of mass shootings, while they should be focusing more on gun crimes committed with handguns, which are more common in cities.
“I believe those priorities, they really were misplaced,” Adams said. “And it’s almost insulting what we have witnessed over the last few years. Many of our presidents, they saw these numbers. They knew that the inner cities, particularly where Black brown and poor people lived, they know — they knew they were dealing with this real crisis.”
Adams officially won the Democratic mayoral nomination last week as the results from the city’s first ranked-choice election were released. He ran as a moderate with a message focused on public safety, police reform and reversing a surge in crime in New York City.
He repeated Sunday that Democrats need to increase focus on the trafficking of handguns, “just as we became energetic after we saw mass shootings with assault rifles in the suburban parts of our country.”
“The numbers of those who are killed by handguns are astronomical. And if we don’t start having real federal legislation, matched with states and cities, we’re never going to get this crisis under control,” he said.
Adams commended Biden’s increased focus on the rise in gun crimes in recent weeks, with the president announcing on June 23 that the Justice Department was launching five firearms trafficking strike forces in cities across the country. Last week, during a trip to Illinois, Biden addressed “the fight against gun violence” following a deadly July Fourth weekend in Chicago, where 104 people were shot and 19 were killed.
The Biden administration is grappling with a national uptick in violent crimes in big cities this year, with guns driving much of that spike in violence.
“I believe, for the first time, we are going to see a coordinated effort between the president, the governor, the mayor to go after the flow of guns in our city, which is extremely important. But then, right on the ground, how do we deal with the intervention aspects of it?” Adams said.
But when asked what he would propose in terms of national gun reforms, Adams didn’t endorse a complete ban on handguns, instead proposing a crackdown on gun dealers and lax gun laws in states across the country.
“Let’s look at those particular gun dealers where there’s a real correlation and connection with the guns that are used in our streets, those who are — those states with lax gun laws, where you can walk into a gun shop with a license and walk out with the gun,” he said. “Let’s look at all of the feeders of how guns are making their way into our cities.”