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New York Attorney General Letitia James seemed to follow the national Democratic Party playbook on crime Thursday as she downplayed the impact of bail reform and instead blamed the state’s surge in shootings on gun trafficking from other parts of the country.
During a news conference in Albany to announce charges against 47 reputed gang members, James said that “90 percent of the guns recovered in the state of New York, come from states with lax gun laws.”
“If you look at the data, and I follow the data, there has been a significant — and let me underscore the word significant — increase in the purchasing of guns during the pandemic,” she said.
James called it “really critically important…that we stop and end gun trafficking to the state of New York.”
“So, we cannot do this state by state by state. It requires a national approach. And I’m urging Congress to pass responsible gun laws,” she added.
When asked point-blank about the notion that bail reform and other soft-on-crime policies were fueling gun violence, James said, “No, I don’t believe that.”
James’ remarks came a day after President Biden called for more gun control laws, including background checks for private firearm sales and a ban on “assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.”
But the top staffer at the New York State Sheriffs’ Association said, “We have to respectfully disagree with the attorney general.”
“It’s very evident when you have a person who commits a serious crime and is immediately released without bail, we have instance after instance where that person goes out and commits another crime,” executive director Peter Kehoe said.
“It flies in the face of logic to say bail reform has nothing to do with the increase in crime and violence.”
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, has also repeatedly blamed bail reform for recent spikes in crime and shootings across the city.
“Judges need discretion to be able to keep repeat offenders and dangerous people off the streets,” Shea said earlier this month.
“We don’t want to see people in jail, but unfortunately there is that small percentage that are not responding to all that is offered.”
Law-enforcement sources have also told The Post that a Department of Justice plan to crack down on the flow of firearms into major cities won’t stem the gun violence plaguing the Big Apple.
“If they never made another gun, shootings would not go down for years,” a veteran Manhattan NYPD detective said earlier this week.
“There are guns that have been lying in closets and under beds for years and they are being passed around.”
During Thursday’s news conference, James said that the violence in Albany “has reached a breaking point,” with shooting-related injuries up 110 percent last year.
The charges announced Thursday involved a pair of rival gangs — known as the “Uptown Associates” and the “Downtown Associates” — that are accused of selling drugs and guns across the Capital Region.
Some of the sales were allegedly carried out after gang members posted photos and videos of prescription pill bottles on Snapchat along with coded captions indicating the strength of the available drugs.
Certain members of the Downtown Associates — known as the “50 Gang,” in reference to banned, high-capacity magazines — also allegedly posted photos and videos of illegal firearms that officials say they used to commit numerous drive-by shootings.
A yearlong investigation dubbed “Operation Crosstown Quarantine” led to the seizure of 1.2 kilograms of cocaine, 140 grams of heroin mixed with fentanyl, oxycodone, $40,000 in cash and nine firearms, including one “ghost gun,” James said.
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