While City Council-members from Westchester and other counties gather in New York City to announce the much-needed National Network to Combat Gun Violence. The Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino is campaigning hard to gun enthusiast to become Governor with a promise to repeal the New York SAFE Act.
The Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) data from arrests and arraignments statewide since the implementation of the SAFE Act showed 1,291 charges under the new gun law, with 1,155 for felony firearm possession, formerly just a misdemeanor, and 1,041 of the cases in New York City, mostly in Brooklyn and the Bronx. The new felony took effect in March, elevating the charge and penalty for illegal possession of a firearm.
Many gun owners who reside in upstate New York have opposed the gun law by claiming is infringes on the Constitutional Rights.
Tom Rood, a local party organizer who helped developed the billboards. “That one in Dundee is really targeted toward people who want to repeal the SAFE Act. There are people in my community who are really strong on that. There are 5 or 6 million gun owners here in New York State. If we can get them registered to vote, we have a chance to change things in Albany. That’s what the message is there.”
Mount Vernon Councilman Richard Thomas said, “Since 1996, over 100 people were murdered in the streets of Mount Vernon, of which 51 homicides occurred and remain unsolved since 2006. While illegal hand guns and drugs are largely to blame, the situation is tenuous and unacceptable.” He added, “Every resident deserves and demands a safe city and should be able to enjoy their homes and family without living in fear of heinous illegal gun activity.
What Astorino has failed to realized that analysis of data from 23 high-income countries reported that 87 percent of children under age 15 killed by guns in these nations lived in the United States. And the U.S gun homicide rate for teens and young adults 15 to 24 was 42.7 times higher than the combined gun homicide rate for that same age group in the other countries.
Many cities urban cities in southern New York have felt the damage of the loss of life from the influx of illegal guns in their communities. What will Astorino tell the many mothers that lost their love ones to gun violence?
Because of defiance and rhetoric of many Republicans nationally like Astorino, who have failed to pass any comprehensive Gun Safety legislation, there has been over 100 mass shootings since Jan. 1, 2014 throughout the United States.
What we are left with is a Republican Candidate wanting to repeal a law made by a Democratic and has yet to offer any legislation of substance to replace it to address the influx of illegal guns in our cities in New York.
We ask Mr. Astorino, what about the fundamental freedoms of people to feel safe in their communities who are not gun enthusiast? Astorino, not a gun owner himself but he is still talking guns to garner votes and trying to find a sympathetic audience in northern New York.
Fourteen months after the passage of the SAFE Act, 63 percent of registered New York state voters say they support the SAFE Act, compared to just 32 percent who oppose it, according to a Siena College poll released March 24, 2014.
Pat Lynch, President of NYPD, Patrolman Benevolent Association and other law enforcement organizations in New York have publicly called for a ban of assault weapons and stiffer penalties on illegal weapons. “There is no legitimate reason for an assault weapon with their high-capacity magazines to ever be in the hands of a private citizen,” said Lynch.
“In their own ways, the majority of law enforcement officers and members of government work to protect their constituents from danger. “I will not sit by and watch another member of New York’s Boldest or any other New Yorker become yet another fatal statistic”, said Norman Seabrook, President of New York City Correction Officers Benevolent Association.
“From a law enforcement standpoint, there are general and legitimate concerns on how we are to protect our children and victims of gun violence, this bill is important”, said Darren Green, President, Blacks in Law Enforcement of America, Long Island Chapter.
“There is a sense of urgency for gun safety in all of our communities, this bill sends the right message. Increasing penalties, doing away with unnecessary large magazines is responsible legislation”, said Anthony Miranda, Chairman, National Latino Officers Association of America.
“Illegal guns in urban cities are now more American than Apple Pie. Universal background checks for all gun and ammunition sales, boosting the state’s power to confiscate firearms from the mentally ill and increasing penalties for gun-related crime will save lives, especially law enforcement,” said Damon K. Jones, New York Representative, Blacks in Law Enforcement of America.
“We need positive solutions to stop illegal guns in our communities. The law is a positive first step in keeping guns out of the hands of youth”, said Charles Billups, Chairmen, Grand Council of Guardians.
The choice of County Sheriff Christopher Moss as Astorino’s running mate will garner a few law enforcement organizations to support. Unfortunately, these same organizations that will stand against gun safety were AWOL in Albany to voice their concerns about the gun legislation when it was passed.