NEW YORK — As the Bronx grapples with a spike in gun violence that has claimed the lives of several teenagers as young as 13 years old, Rep. Ritchie Torres says there’s no “simple solution” to the problem, but rather several solutions.
Torres joined PIX on Politics host Dan Mannarino on Sunday to talk about what can be done to curb gun violence his district, the borough and the city as a whole.
“Certainly there needs to be greater economic opportunity. We have a crisis of disconnected youth, especially in places like the Bronx,” Torres said. “And those young people are particularly susceptible to gang recruitment.”
The freshman congressman said federal lawmakers need to pass an infrastructure bill that goes beyond bridges and tunnels and provides meaningful funding for social infrastructure that can help keep young people in schools or in jobs and off the streets. But he didn’t stop there.
“Second, we have to abandon the policy of defunding police. Police are essential to public safety,” Torres said. “What most New Yorkers want is not less policing or more police, but better policing — more accountable and transparent policing.”
The third part of the equation, according to the lawmaker, is more federal gun safety regulations.
On a local level, as New York City voters prepare to elect a new mayor in November, Torres said while he voted for Andrew Yang in the Democratic primary, he ranked winner Eric Adams second, and he believes the Brooklyn borough president has what it takes to turn the five boroughs around.
“He has the potential to be a transformational leader in America’s largest city. His success will depend on the quality of the people he hires to manage city agencies, and it will depend on how he manages his relationships both with the state legislature, with the governor, and in particular the City Council,” Torres said. “We’re about to have the most independent and intransigent City Council that any mayor has ever had to deal with. So he’s going to have a heavy challenge on his hands.”
With the majority of City Council seats projected to be held by women next year, Torres — a former city councilman himself — was excited by the prospect of what that might mean for New Yorkers.
He predicted the City Council would take a stronger stance in setting budgetary priorities, which are typically negotiated between the council and the mayor, and take a more skeptical approach to land use and development projects.