1. Are gun crimes up or down compared to last year?
November gun crimes reported by the Suffolk County police were up 79.2 percent, but Nassau’s were down nearly 21 percent and Hempstead’s were down 70.6 percent, although that last number is based on a small number of crimes (17 going down to five).
2. Which violent crimes most often involved a gun? Which least often involves a gun?
On Long Island, more guns were involved in robberies in 2014 than any other violent crime. Of the 103 robberies reported by Nassau, Suffolk and Hempstead police in November, 44 involved guns, some 42.7 percent. Guns are used least often in rapes. Just one of the 65 rapes reported by the three police departments in the 12 months ending in November involved a handgun. That works out to 1.5 percent of the cases.
3. How does LI compare to the rest of New York?
For all of 2014, the most recent full-year available, there were 14,769 violent crimes reported to the state, of which 24.8 percent involved guns. New York's percentage is lower than Hempstead’s 2014 rate (29.5 percent) but higher than Suffolk (22.5 percent) and Nassau (18.9 percent).
4. How is the data gathered?
Due to what it calls “increased interest in criminal firearm activity,” the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services began tracking firearm-related statistics. The division gets monthly reports, on a voluntary basis, from law enforcement agencies under the state’s Gun Involved Violence Elimination (GIVE) initiative. Suffolk County Police Department, Nassau County Police Department and Hempstead Village Police Department are the only police agencies on Long Island that submit monthly crime reports to the state — so this data doesn’t include all LI crimes, but does include most crimes that involve force or threat of force.
5. Why is this data important?
Amid a national debate about gun violence and gun control measures, statistics that help frame the debate are worth knowing. At the same time there are limitations to the data — someone could assume that most of the guns involved in violent crimes on LI were obtained illegally, but no one knows that for sure.