It Didn’t Happen

Gun Rights

Oh, the perils of putting pen to paper. 

Hunter Biden possibly has a regret or two over his 2021 memoir, Beautiful Things, now that its lurid revelations and “countless incriminating statements about his years-long drug usage” are being eyeballed by the federal prosecutors handling his gun case.

Fifteen years ago, then-State Senator and now New York City Mayor Eric Adams, writing as a “retired NYPD Captain,” allegedly authored a reference book for parents called Don’t Let It Happen.

The book’s Introduction explains the “reason I wrote this book” – “to assist parents in detecting when their children are involved in an activity that can be harmful to themselves or other family members.” Various chapters are dedicated to the evils occasioned by truancy, drugs, alcohol, gangs, crime victimization, police abuse, and more. The Introduction stresses that “[a]ll of the incidents in this book are true. I intentionally changed the names of those involved in order to protect their right to privacy.”

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Earlier this month, a Byline writer who “unearthed” the book reviewed it, calling it “a classically ridiculous PSA: Don’t Let It Happen — written by none other than Eric Adams, former NYPD Captain, current Mayor of New York City.”

The review highlighted, among others, Chapter 8 on “Guns” and its anecdote about a youthful misadventure:  

When I was a child, a friend of mine brought a gun to school…to show off to the rest of the students. This was my first time seeing a real gun. After years of playing “Cowboys and Indians” with toy guns, I did not believe the gun he was showing us was real. I laughed at his stupid trick and grabbed the gun from him. “If this gun is real,” I said, “then it should go off.” I pointed what I thought was a toy gun at my group of friends and pulled the trigger. A round discharged, and only by the grace of God and my poor aim did the bullet miss my friends. The incident scared me so much that I dropped the gun and ran.

Days after the Byline piece was published, it seems a reporter from the Associated Press quizzed Mayor Adams about the book’s school shooting passage. Mayor Adams, according to an NBC news report, flatly denied it ever happened: “I never fired a gun in school.”

The same news report quotes Adams as saying, “I think the person who, the co-author of the book, may have misunderstood the exact—someone. There was an incident in school where someone pointed what they thought was a toy gun and they may have misunderstood—that book never got into print because we never went through the proofreading aspect of it.” However, the book has been in print since 2009, and neither the book cover nor its copyright page lists any author besides Adams (although the cover refers to a “foreword by Tracey Collins” – along with a photo of a revolver in a lunchbox).

The Byline writer used another anecdote from the book to explore the book’s all-of-the-incidents-are-true assertion, in which a mom allegedly told Adams that her son used to sprinkle a “sugar substitute” on his cereal, which substance was later sent to the police for analysis and found to be PCP. “This illustrates the beauty of Adam’s disclaimer at the front of the book. ‘The incidents in this book are true’ could mean either: A: The PCP-cornflakes incident happened exactly as described. B: Adams’ recollection of a woman talking about PCP-cornflakes is, itself, true.” Unlike the cereal episode, though, the school shooting isn’t presented as a secondhand story but is recounted from Adams’ own perspective.

It’s too bad.

Rather than Don’t Let It Happen morphing into It Never Happened, the mayor could have used this as a positive, “teachable moment” to explain (as the book itself does) that “many children recklessly handle real guns because there is no formal training to counter what they have learned from television,” and that “gun safety should be taught to children.” The NRA’s Eddie Eagle program, for example, begins by instructing children to “Stop! Don’t touch. Run away. Tell an adult,” – four “simple, easy to remember steps so they know what to do if they ever come across a gun.”

Instead, it looks as if the mayor opted to lean hard into his gun control credentials and repudiate an event that could portray him, to some, as other than the staunch anti-gun advocate that he is today. This is, after all, the guy who showed up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s gala in 2022 wearing a tuxedo jacket with a prominent “no guns” logo, and who is currently a “co-chair” of Michael Bloomberg’s “Mayors Against Illegal Guns,” a group that has its own bumpy history (here, here, and here, for instance).

Unfortunately, the mayor’s denial discredits not only the book, but himself. (Reviews of the book left on the Amazon website include, “Eric Adams claims not to have written this book and parts are fake, but will not state which parts.”) A subsequent news report cites a City Hall spokesperson as explaining that “the mayor had never reviewed the final version of the book and only just learned it was publicly available,” and that Adams has contacted the book publisher to get the book out of circulation.

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