Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a gun violence disaster emergency Tuesday, July 6, pledging to send almost $140 million in state funds to combat shootings across the Empire State, including on Long Island.
“We went from one epidemic to another epidemic. We went from Covid, to the epidemic of gun violence,” Cuomo said at a rally at John Jay College in Manhattan.
The $138.7 million effort, which Cuomo likened to a public health initiative similar to the state’s fight against the coronavirus, creates a new Office of Gun Prevention to coordinate responses to gun violence hotspots across the state, in addition to a new Council on Gun Violence Reduction to review laws and recommend policy changes.
The order will launch a new unit within the New York State Police to intercept guns traffickers coming from out-of-state, and require all local police departments to share incident-level data of shootings.
The governor noted that 26 people had been shot statewide over the Fourth of July weekend, including three people on Long Island. According to Nassau County police, a shooting in Roosevelt on Sunday left 27-year-old Tavon Greenhill, of Hempstead, dead, and two others injured.
Cuomo also made note that a small number of at-risk youth — about 4,090 men ages 18 to 24 — account for 48.5 percent of shootings statewide. He said state funds would encourage an array of community leaders to address the problem from the ground up, as well as create jobs for at-risk youth. The lump-sum includes a $57.5 million jobs program aiming to create 21,000 new jobs.
On Long Island, Cuomo’s presentation included the following information about gun violence on Long Island:
Zones including 11.9 percent of Wyandanch’s at-risk youth have seen 35 percent of Wyandanch’s recent shootings.
Zones including 6.2 percent of Uniondale’s at-risk youth have seen 57.1 percent of Uniondale’s recent shootings.
Zones including 20.5 percent of Hempstead’s at-risk youth have seen 60.5 percent of Hempstead’s recent shootings.
The state will work with unions, state agencies, and authorities, like the United Federation of Teachers, 32BJ, as well as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the state Parks Department, and local business groups, such as Partnership for NYC, tech: NYC, the NYC Hospitality Alliance, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, Queens Chamber of Commerce and Staten Island Chamber of Commerce.
State taxpayer dollars will pay the salaries of these jobs, which can be posted online at the state’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.
Cuomo also signed two bills into law, one to allow New Yorkers to sue gun manufacturers for shootings, bypassing a 2005 federal law shielding the companies, which was introduced by Brooklyn state Sen. Zellnor Myrie and upstate Assembly Member Patricia Fahy.
The other piece of legislation will bar people with active warrants from buying firearms.
-With Briana Bonfiglio
This story first appeared on amNY.com.