Police say Edison Cruz of the Bronx has been trying hard to go to jail, which is not easy to do in New York City. He kept getting arrested and they kept letting him go and, so really, what’s an up-and-coming convict to do?
Kill somebody, police say. And shoot two innocent bystanders. With a “ghost gun” — a handgun assembled illegally from mail-order parts.
So, persistence does pay: After three previous ghost-gun-related busts — followed by two instant releases under New York’s insane bail laws and then a timely bail-out arranged by a Bronx “alternative justice” group — Cruz was free finally to make the big time.
He now stands accused of second-degree murder, manslaughter and weapons charges — a list likely to grow as authorities finish sorting the spare parts he allegedly used to build untraceable weapons.
As a hobby, police say.
That last should scare you. It’s not like New York needs a new source of illegal weapons.
Then again, which is worse — ghost guns themselves, or a legal system that sets someone free three bloody times following arrests for building ghost guns?
The guns can’t be tolerated, certainly. But reasonable people should have scant patience for rhetorical deflections, too.
Gun crisis goes deeper
Ghost guns are the bugbear of the moment, because only a lunatic would defend them. And because it is much easier, and far less controversial, to blame them for New York’s blood-spattered sidewalks than it would be to bring the full force of the law down on the core problem — the trigger-pullers.
There is no hoarier cliché in the American conversation than “guns don’t kill, people do.” But its depressing ubiquity doesn’t make it any less true.
Thus, no gun-violence policy is going to succeed if it isn’t focused as squarely on criminals as it is on weapons.
Mayor Adams seems to get this, sort of. He has undone a lot of the damage inflicted on the NYPD by his predecessor. Gun crime seems to have leveled off a bit — although it remains appallingly high compared to pre-pandemic levels, and the summertime-carnage season is rapidly approaching.
But even he seems caught up in the rhetoric of the moment. He’s constantly rattling on about ghost guns — and if his “end gun violence” tuxedo at the Met Gala the other night had a point, it was not aimed at the people who matter.
They would be the Albany establishment — Gov. Hochul and a legislative leadership responsible for the so-called “reforms” meant to lighten the burden on New York’s criminal class. And they persist in this mischief, despite poll after poll showing that crime is squarely atop the list of New Yorkers’ concerns.
Adams should exploit this.
He might ask Hochul — rhetorically if not face to face — if she’s comfortable with the fact that Edison Cruz was free to commit murder after three separate arrests on ghost-gun charges, with no significant sanctions in sight.
And if she’s not comfortable, what does she plan to do about it. Her answers, in an election year, should be instructive.