New York Politicians Are Considering a Mask Ban to Curb Crime. It’s a Stupid Idea.

AP Photo/Brittainy Newman

New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul are floating yet another new idea to reduce violent crime: Banning masks in public spaces. 

The mayor on Monday announced his support for such a measure, which would ostensibly decrease criminal activity in subways, at protests, and in other areas.

Both Adams and Hochul appear to believe that outlawing facial coverings will also reduce hate crimes and other types of violent activity because it would make it harder for offenders to conceal their identities.

This is probably the most absurd solution to crime I’ve heard in a while. But, if New York enacts such a policy, it will undoubtedly enable them to pretend they are trying to protect the citizenry.

Adams met with reporters on Monday afternoon, when he was asked about the possibility of implementing a mask ban.

Last week, Gov. Kathy Hochul, D-N.Y., said she was considering bringing back a ban on masks in her state to reduce crime. Her proposal was rejected by some on social media who are still fearful of the COVID-19 virus.

During an interview with CNN anchor Laura Coates last Wednesday, Hochul was asked about potential measures she may take to reduce rampant crime in New York City, including reinstating a previous mask ban. Jewish leaders have said that the masks have made violent offenders less afraid to commit antisemitic hate crimes.

Adams said he is “a strong supporter of the decision of stopping masks on our subway system, masks in protests, and mask in other areas where it’s not … health-related.”

The mayor then made the obligatory Ku Klux Klan reference, saying, “There were these guys that used to ride around with hoods in the deep south. So, cowards cover their faces.”

When discussing whether protesters should be allowed to wear masks during demonstrations, he argued that they should be willing to show their faces if they truly believe in their cause.

New York Attorney General Letitia James has also expressed support for banning masks, arguing that “no one should be able to hide behind a mask to spew hate.”

As usual, these politicians have failed to consider a reality that most people know: Criminals do not comply with laws. If someone wishes to carry out a violent crime while wearing a mask, they are not going to say, “Well, I want to beat up this guy for not looking like me, but the law says I can’t hide my identity while I’m doing it, so I guess I can’t.”

The type of person who would commit such an act will not let a mask ban deter them.

There could also be constitutional concerns with mask bans. The First Amendment protects the right to free speech and peaceful assembly. Many of those who protest don’t want their identities known out of fear of being unfairly targeted by law enforcement. Some don’t want to risk losing their jobs for expressing certain political views. Prohibiting them from wearing masks during protests could have a chilling effect on free speech.

Moreover, there are constitutional concerns related to the implementation of a mask ban. The right to free speech and peaceful assembly are protected under the First Amendment. By banning masks, the government risks infringing on these fundamental rights. Protestors may feel less safe expressing their views, particularly if they fear retaliation or surveillance. Ensuring that individuals can exercise their rights without unnecessary restrictions is crucial in a democratic society.

Honing in on face coverings is only a way of diverting from more effective measures that could actually make an impact on violent crime. New York’s government desperately wants to make sure that criminals and law enforcement are the only ones who are armed, even though allowing civilians the right to keep and bear arms would have a far greater impact on reducing violence than telling people they can’t mask up.

Indeed, when people are armed, it is easier for them to deter would-be robbers, rapists, and thieves. In most defensive gun uses it only takes brandishing the firearm to scare off a potential assailant – whether they are wearing a mask or not.

Unfortunately, the very last thing New York’s government wants is for residents to be able to defend themselves instead of relying on the state, as evidenced by the case of Dexter Taylor.

But, we all know what this mask-ban nonsense is. It’s a feel-good measure intended to give the appearance that New York’s government is doing something to protect citizens when it really isn’t. If they truly cared about public safety, they would not stop civilians from defending themselves.


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