Cuomo declares gun violence a state disaster emergency

Published: Jul. 6, 2021 at 5:00 PM EDT
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NEW YORK CITY, New York (WWNY) - Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order Tuesday declaring a disaster emergency on gun violence in New York state.

“Gun violence is a public health crisis, and we must treat it like one. This declaration will allow us to give this crisis the full attention & resources it deserves,” Cuomo said on Twitter.

The governor touted the order as the first of its kind in the nation, and said it allows the state to quickly free up money and programs for communities so they can begin targeting gun violence.

Cuomo outlined a 7-step approach:

  • Deploying a public-health approach to gun violence
  • Targeting “hot spots” using science and data
  • Investing over $76 million to create job opportunities and community activities for youth
  • More than doubling state investments in violence intervention programs
  • Getting illegal guns off the streets
  • Keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people
  • Strengthening the police-community relationship

The governor announced the creation of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention.

Under the executive order, major police departments are required to share “incident-level data” on gun violence with the Division of Criminal Justice Services to compile the data weekly.

That data will be used by the new Office of Gun Violence Prevention to track gun violence hotspots and deploy resources to those areas.

“We’re building New York back better than ever before, but part of rebuilding is addressing the systemic injustices that were exposed by COVID. If you look at the recent numbers, more people are now dying from gun violence and crime than COVID - this is a national problem but someone has to step up and address this problem because our future depends on it,” Cuomo said. “Just like we did with COVID, New York is going to lead the nation once again with a comprehensive approach to combating and preventing gun violence, and our first step is acknowledging the problem with a first-in-the-nation disaster emergency on gun violence. When we see an injustice we don’t look the other way, we stand up and fight it because that’s the New York way.”

Republican Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush of the 117th District criticized Cuomo’s emergency declaration. He issued the following statement:

“His plan is far too little, far too late. This session, our conference was laser-focused on cleaning up the governor’s bail reform mess and supporting our law enforcement again. He wouldn’t work with us. For years, we’ve said the SAFE Act would never make New York safer. This is proof.

“Respect for the rule of law needs to be restored before it is too late. If we continually let violent offenders back on the streets and continue to disrespect our men and women in blue, residents will continue to leave New York state, and for good reason. Law-abiding gun owners have never been the problem. Rather, the real emergency is Democratic leadership pushing an agenda that flies in the face of law and order.”

Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt issued this statement:

“Days after finally relinquishing his emergency powers, the Governor has declared another emergency. The crisis in cities across our state today directly correlates with the passage of the disastrous bail and other criminal justice “reforms,” an out-of-control Parole Board that has released countless murderers and other dangerous criminals, and calls by democrats to defund our police.

“These heinous acts of violence and the victims affected deserve real solutions -- not political grandstanding.”

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