Knives (and Guns) of New York

I honestly haven’t been keeping close tabs on what some people are saying is an increase in knife violence in New York City, which they attribute to the very strict gun control laws there.


But the buzz surrounding this reminded me of a presentation I went to at the annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology in Washington, D.C. last fall.

Scholars from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice Research and Evaluation Center were presenting findings from their evaluation of a public health approach to reducing violence based on the Chicago Cease Fire model (sometimes called the “Cure Violence” model).

Reviewing 10 years of data on 52,714 victims of violence who presented at NYC hospitals revealed the following:

Cure Violence ASC John Jay Knife Violence

That’s right: almost four times as many victims of stabbings as of shootings. Since stabbings are not exactly rare events in NYC, especially in comparison to shootings, I am not sure what all the fuss is about with these recent stabbings, other than perhaps they are being done more randomly, brazenly, publicly.

The other interesting piece of data the John Jay scholars presented was 10 year trajectories of young adult male (YAM) gun violence incidents by neighborhood:

Cure Violence ASC John Jay Gun Violence

The violence story this table tells is notable: 98 percent of the neighborhoods in New York had zero, little to no, or low levels of violence.

The 13 percent of neighborhoods that had low levels of violence also saw a decline in violence over the 10 year period.

Of the 2 percent of neighborhoods that had elevated rates of violence, there were signs of decline in the last third of the period under study.

Is this what epidemics look like?


    • I am not sure if this work has been published, or if there is even a formal paper associated with what was presented at the conference. The link above to the John Jay College Research and Evaluation Center will take you to a collection of reports from this project generally.

      The specific data cited here are from two presentations: “Gun Violence in New York Cities; Trajectories of Shootings from 2004 to 2014,” by Evan Misshula, Kevin Wolff, and Sheyla Delgado, all of John Jay, and “Prevalence of Violent Injuries in New York City: Examining 20 Years of Emergency Room Data,” by Delgado, Wolff, Misshula, and Chunrye Kim, again of John Jay.


  1. More reinforcement of Papachristos’s work on violence primarily tracking to personal associations. Incredibly small and localized number of players in criminal violence stats in all locales. Law enforcement and social services need to start playing the man, not the puck.


    • Agree with you very heartily on this. Papachristos was supposed to be a discussant on the panel at which this research was presented but he didn’t make it for some unannounced reason. Would have been interested in his take on it.


  2. […] To highlight lack of funding from one source ignores the many ways that scholars can have their research funded, particularly if they attempt to understand the causes of violence per se, as opposed to just looking at gun violence from the perspective of gun control. For example, like the scholars at John Jay College who are studying violence in New York City, including both gun and knife violence. […]


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