While many local church leaders and nonprofits are asking people to donate money, clothes and toiletries to help the people of Ukraine during the Russian invasion, some Long Island officials are working to send guns and bulletproof vests.
Suffolk County Sheriff Errol D. Toulon, Jr. on Monday gave around 450 pieces of body armor to the Long Island-Ukraine Emergency Response Drive. The same day, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison donated more than 750 decommissioned bulletproof vests to be sent to Ukraine. And in what may New York’s only gun drive for Ukraine, Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman has launched a bid to collect semi-automatic rifles and shotguns.
“It is the hope of the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office that this body armor can provide some measure of protection to the Ukrainians fighting on the front lines of this bloody war,” Toulon said. “We pray for a quick and peaceful end to this conflict.”
The officials are among Americans collecting thousands of sets of body armor, pledging millions of rounds of ammunition in response to Ukraine’s pleas for military aid. But American donors are running into U.S. and foreign export licenses requirements for equipment like modern bullet proof vests, firearms and ammunition. Some are partnering with Ukrainian relief groups such as the nonprofit Ukrainian American Coordinating Council to get past export hurdles.
Blakeman’s on Wednesday sent a letter to President Joe Biden requesting immediate federal approval to ship more than 50 rifles he had gathered in a donation drive for Ukraine.
“The fact that we do have a lot of legal gun ownership in the United States means that, you know, people may have a spare gun to contribute,” said Blakeman, adding that he had received interest from across the country in similar gun drives.