Cuomo declares nation’s first gun disaster emergency after 51 people shot in NY over July 4 weekend

New York has become the first state in the nation to declare gun violence an emergency, with Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday vowing to fight the problem and crack down on gun manufacturers, making it easier to sue those who make the weapons.

Cuomo in a speech on Tuesday pointed the finger at the manufacturers of guns, and announced almost $139 million in investment to reduce the rapidly-rising death toll.

‘It is a matter of saving lives, and New York’s future depends on it,’ Cuomo said at a news conference at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan. 

Cuomo is finally taking action over the surging crime rate in the Big Apple and the rest of the state ahead of next year’s election, where he is expected to launch a reelection campaign to stay in office. 

However, the order has faced criticism, with opponents claiming policies put in place which treat ‘criminals like the victims’ and releasing offenders from their prison sentences early is the reason, rather than the guns themselves.  

Cuomo signed legislation on Tuesday holding gun manufacturers liable for the harm their products cause. 

It also closed a loophole that allowed people with outstanding warrants for their arrest to purchase guns. 

He said: ‘The only industry in the United States of America immune from lawsuits are the gun manufacturers, but we will not stand for that any longer. 

Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, was in Manhattan on Tuesday to sign into law a $139 million plan to combat gun crime in the state. Almost half of the money will go to violence prevention initiatives and finding jobs and training for young people deemed most at risk

Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, was in Manhattan on Tuesday to sign into law a $139 million plan to combat gun crime in the state. Almost half of the money will go to violence prevention initiatives and finding jobs and training for young people deemed most at risk

Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, was in Manhattan on Tuesday to sign into law a $139 million plan to combat gun crime in the state. Almost half of the money will go to violence prevention initiatives and finding jobs and training for young people deemed most at risk

‘I am not only signing a new law that does away with this immunity, giving New York the ability to hold them accountable, but also closing the destructive Trump loophole which has allowed people with active warrants to purchase guns for far too long. 

‘Now, if you have an active warrant, you cannot buy a gun in the State of New York, period.’   

It comes less than two weeks after Cuomo lifted the state’s disaster emergency on the Covid-19 pandemic, and he said gun violence should be treated as a public health crisis. 

Over the Fourth of July weekend, 51 people were shot in New York state with 26 of those in New York City alone. At least two of those were killed. Across the state, 14 victims were in Buffalo, five in Syracuse, three on Long Island, two in Utica and one in Rochester. During the holiday weekend, 13 people in the state died of COVID-19.  

‘If you can beat COVID, you can beat gun violence. We’re in a new epidemic, and it’s gun violence, and it’s a matter of life and death also,’ Cuomo said.

‘People are not coming back to this city, they’re not coming back to any city, until they know they are safe.’ 

The order allows the state to free up funds to create a special police unit to fight the trafficking of firearms from other states. At least 74% of guns used in crimes in New York were purchased out of state. 

Cuomo said on Tuesday that the gun violence problem was national - but New York was prepared to lead the way

Cuomo said on Tuesday that the gun violence problem was national - but New York was prepared to lead the way

Cuomo said on Tuesday that the gun violence problem was national – but New York was prepared to lead the way

In New York City police recorded more than 1,500 shootings in 2020, nearly almost twice as many as 2019, and the violence so far this year is at its highest level since the early 2000s. 

In New York, gun violence has spiked 32% over the same period in 2020 – some 886 people have been shot in 765 incidents this year through July 4, according to police statistics. 

The order has faced criticism, including from Mike Lawler, a member of the New York State Assembly, who said that policies put in place which treat ‘criminals like they are the victims’ is the reason for the gun violence emergency, rather than the guns themselves. 

He said: ‘Cashless bail for violent criminals; non-enforcement of petty crimes; defunding the police; eliminating the anti-crime unit; parole for cop killers, child rapists, murderers and depraved violent criminals. That is why we have a rise in crime and shootings. 

‘If you want to fix it, cut the political grandstanding and reverse these disastrous policies now, otherwise we can expect the violence to continue and get worse.’ 

Cuomo’s announcement faced further criticism from New York state Republican Leader Rob Ortt, who slammed it as ‘political grandstanding’ because the gun violence crisis has a direct link to the state’s bail reform laws. 

In a statement posted to Twitter, Ortt said: ‘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.’ 

Meanwhile, president of the London Center for Policy Research Tony Shaffer said the emergency order is a ‘created crisis and “epidemic”‘ because of the reformed prison system which saw felons freed. 

He added: ‘Guns are not the issue… political leadership failure is…’   

New York City police officers investigate the scene where a man was shot and killed in Brooklyn on June 11. Gun crime is soaring in the city, and across the state

New York City police officers investigate the scene where a man was shot and killed in Brooklyn on June 11. Gun crime is soaring in the city, and across the state

New York City police officers investigate the scene where a man was shot and killed in Brooklyn on June 11. Gun crime is soaring in the city, and across the state

Cuomo’s war against guns comes after political foe Mayor de Blasio vowed to slash $1 billion from the police budget amid calls to defund the police, despite the surging crime rate in the past year. 

The announcement was made on the same day anti-crime Eric Adams won the New York City Democratic mayoral primary, putting him on track to succeed de Blasio. 

Adams, 60, is a former police officer and current president of the borough of Brooklyn. He said: ‘I wore a bulletproof vest to keep my neighbors safe. I served my community as a State Senator & Brooklyn Borough President. And I’m honored to be the Democratic nominee to be the Mayor of the city I’ve always called home. Thank you, New York!’   

He said he was running to ‘deliver on the promise of this great city for those who are struggling, who are underserved, and who are committed to a safe, fair, affordable future for all New Yorkers.’  

Cuomo’s announcement comes off the back of a bloody Independence Day weekend across the nation. Between July 3 and July 5, there were 379 shootings and 142 people were killed across the US, according to Gun Violence Archive.  

The governor said that New York should show the rest of the U.S. how to deal with the crisis. 

‘Treat gun violence as it is – which is really a public health emergency,’ said Cuomo. ‘That’s what it is, and that’s how we’re going to treat it. So today, first state in the nation, is going to declare a disaster emergency on gun violence.’  

In his announcement, Cuomo said gun violence overwhelmingly affects poor, black and Latino communities, whose youth are three to 10 times as likely as whites to be victims of gun violence. But it matters for all, he said, because the state cannot rebound from the pandemic without addressing it. 

The governor said he was appointing a special coordinator for the prevention of gun violence attached to the state’s health services.

The office will have to coordinate with social services, prison services, police forces and others. A special police unit to fight the trafficking of firearms from other states will also be created. 

The new legislation means gun manufacturers cannot endanger the safety and health of the public through the products they sell, which can be considered a public nuisance even if harm was not purposely caused.    

‘This is a national problem – I get it. But somebody has to step up and somebody has to address it,’ Cuomo said.

‘And the place that should step up and address it is the state of New York. 

‘And we should do it comprehensively and honestly and creatively. And that’s what today is all about,’ he said.

Cuomo poses for photos with advocates working to reduce gun violence in New York

Cuomo poses for photos with advocates working to reduce gun violence in New York

Cuomo poses for photos with advocates working to reduce gun violence in New York

New York City police officers with the Crime Scene Unit investigate the scene in Brooklyn on June 11

New York City police officers with the Crime Scene Unit investigate the scene in Brooklyn on June 11

New York City police officers with the Crime Scene Unit investigate the scene in Brooklyn on June 11

Members of the New York Police Department investigate the scene of a fatal double-shooting on June 6

Members of the New York Police Department investigate the scene of a fatal double-shooting on June 6

Members of the New York Police Department investigate the scene of a fatal double-shooting on June 6

The governor said that New York should lead the nation in tackling gun violence. 

New York has some of the strictest gun laws in America but it is easy to travel and buy weapons in the neighboring states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, which are more lax. 

‘This is the state – when it sees an injustice, we don’t look the other way: we stand up and we fight it, and that’s what we’re going to do with gun violence,’ he said. 

Cuomo unveiled special measures aimed at curbing an increase in shootings that have beset New York City since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in spring last year.

‘If you look at the recent numbers, more people are now dying from gun violence and crime than COVID,’ his office said in a press release.

‘This is a national problem but someone has to step up and address this problem because our future depends on it.’

Cuomo also announced $138 million of investment in intervention and prevention programs, including $76 million to create jobs for young people deemed most at risk.

Police in the New York City borough of Queens investigate a shooting on June 6. A man was wounded and a 10-year-old boy was hit in the chest and pronounced dead at a nearby hospital following the drive-by shooting

Police in the New York City borough of Queens investigate a shooting on June 6. A man was wounded and a 10-year-old boy was hit in the chest and pronounced dead at a nearby hospital following the drive-by shooting

Police in the New York City borough of Queens investigate a shooting on June 6. A man was wounded and a 10-year-old boy was hit in the chest and pronounced dead at a nearby hospital following the drive-by shooting

The governor signed two laws into effect on Tuesday as well.

One ‘public nuisance liability’ law makes it easier for civilians to bring lawsuits against gun makers and dealers.

Manufacturers have been largely exempt from liability by federal law, which the New York law will circumvent. 

State Senator Zellnor Myrie, who sponsored the gun nuisance law and attended the governor’s announcement, said it gave grieving mothers from the violence-plagued Brooklyn district of Brownsville and the city of Buffalo leverage against a gun industry that is making record profits. 

‘Illegal guns are responsible for the overwhelming amount of violence on our streets — including the murder of police officers — and now we’re the first state in the nation to say enough is enough; if you’re a bad actor, you will pay,’ he told The New York Times.

In a statement, he added: ‘In this year’s state budget, we declared gun violence a public health crisis, especially affecting Black and Brown communities like the ones I represent. 

‘Today, we’re taking bold action to address this crisis head on by enacting the strongest gun industry liability law in the nation. This new law makes it clear: New York will not hesitate to hold gun companies accountable for reckless and irresponsible actions that lead to bloodshed in our streets.’ 

The second is designed to prevent those wanted for crimes from being able to acquire a weapon. 

Senator Brian Kavanagh said that the new legislation ‘represents significant steps in our continuing efforts to end the scourge of gun violence’. 

He said: ‘While we have enacted some of the strongest gun laws in the US and have much lower rates of gun deaths and injuries than most other states, we must remain committed to doing all we can to keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them.’ 

Assembly Member Patricia Fahy said that they are helping to keep New Yorkers safe from ‘the scourge of gun violence’. 

She said: ‘For far too long, most guns recovered from violent crimes and shootings in New York are trafficked in from out-of-state, yet the gun industry in the United States enjoys special protection from civil liability under a 2005 federal law known as PLCAA. 

‘Passing this landmark legislation will allow gun manufacturers and distributors, who knowingly use bad actors to market their products, to be held civilly liable for the damage they cause on our streets. 

‘We have led the nation on gun legislation – and we aren’t letting up now to help keep New Yorkers safe from the scourge of gun violence.’

She added: ‘It will be an effective tool to leverage in the fight against gun violence this year in New York State and shift the national conversation.’   

Assembly Member Amy Paulin said that it ‘makes common sense’ for people who have an outstanding warrant to not be able to buy a gun. 

She said: ‘Too often, we see guns get into the wrong hands, with disastrous results. 

‘If you have committed a serious offense, and there is an outstanding warrant for your arrest, you shouldn’t have a gun.’   

New York Stat Republican Leader Rob Ortt, who slammed it as ‘political grandstanding’. 

‘Days after finally relinquishing his emergency powers, the governor has declared another emergency,’ Ortt said. ‘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 measures come as New York and the US face a sharp rise in crime since last summer.

The country’s major cities saw a 30 per cent increase in homicides in 2020, with Republicans accusing Democratic leaders of negligence.

President Joe Biden introduced measures on June 23 to limit the flow of firearms but a divided Congress makes it difficult for Democrats to pass laws.

Anti-crime Eric Adams wins New York City Democratic mayoral primary putting him on track to succeed Bill de Blasio as mayor 

Eric Adams has been declared the winner of the New York City mayoral primary by Associated Press, setting him on course to be the next mayor of the biggest city in the United States.

Adams, a 60-year-old former police officer and current president of the borough of Brooklyn, fought off a fierce challenge from Kathryn Garcia – a former sanitation chief, hoping to become the first female mayor. 

Adams – who will become the second black mayor of the city after David Dinkins – won 50.5 per cent of the vote, according to preliminary results – defeating Garcia by only one per cent. 

State law triggers a manual recount if the difference is less than 0.5 per cent. 

Garcia has not conceded, and is asking for further details said spokeswoman Lindsey Green, saying they are ‘currently seeking additional clarity on the number of outstanding ballots.’ 

Adams said: ‘While there are still some very small amounts of votes to be counted, the results are clear: an historic, diverse, five-borough coalition led by working-class New Yorkers has led us to victory in the Democratic primary for mayor of New York.’

Eric Adams, 60, has been declared the victor in the Democratic primary to replace Bill de Blasio as mayor of New York City. He will take on the Republican challenger in November, with his success in the strongly Democrat city almost guaranteed

Eric Adams, 60, has been declared the victor in the Democratic primary to replace Bill de Blasio as mayor of New York City. He will take on the Republican challenger in November, with his success in the strongly Democrat city almost guaranteed

Eric Adams, 60, has been declared the victor in the Democratic primary to replace Bill de Blasio as mayor of New York City. He will take on the Republican challenger in November, with his success in the strongly Democrat city almost guaranteed

Adams is seen speaking to reporters on June 24 in New York City

Adams is seen speaking to reporters on June 24 in New York City

Adams is seen speaking to reporters on June 24 in New York City

Kathryn Garcia, Adams' main rival, is yet to concede and is awaiting further results, her campaign said on Tuesday night

Kathryn Garcia, Adams' main rival, is yet to concede and is awaiting further results, her campaign said on Tuesday night

Kathryn Garcia, Adams’ main rival, is yet to concede and is awaiting further results, her campaign said on Tuesday night

He said he was running to ‘deliver on the promise of this great city for those who are struggling, who are underserved, and who are committed to a safe, fair, affordable future for all New Yorkers.’ 

The Brooklyn-born veteran politician then tweeted: ‘I grew up poor in Brooklyn & Queens. 

‘I wore a bulletproof vest to keep my neighbors safe. I served my community as a State Senator & Brooklyn Borough President. 

‘And I’m honored to be the Democratic nominee to be the Mayor of the city I’ve always called home. Thank you, New York!’  

Adams will take on his Republican challenger Curtis Sliwa, the 67-year-old founder of the Guardian Angels patrol group, in November.

In the strongly-Democrat city, Adams’s victory is all-but guaranteed.

He will take over from the immensely unpopular Bill de Blasio, also a Democrat, who cannot run for a third term. 

On Tuesday night, Fox News  host Tucker Carlson praised Eric Adams for the win because he  vowed to stamp down on surging violent crime in the Big Apple.

‘The Associated Press has called the New York City Democratic mayoral primary which is effectively the same as the mayor’s race given it’s a one-party state in New York,’ Carlson said on his show on Tuesday.

‘It looks like Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams is very likely to be the next mayor of New York.’

Carlson continued: ‘We are absolutely certain we will be deeply disappointed by Eric Adams – at least as he has all kinds of problems and we don’t agree with him on anything, but the point of Eric Adams is worth remembering.’

‘He won because he was alone in acknowledging that violent crime is a huge problem for everyone in New York and he vowed to do something about it. That is a winning message because it is rooted in the physical reality and we wish him absolutely the best in fighting crime in New York,’ Carlson said.  

The election was the first time that New York City used ranked choice voting (RCV).

The experiment was not without problems: last week, the Board of Elections had to admit that they had mistakenly counted test ballots, and redo their count.

Yet on Tuesday night they felt confident enough in the results to publish them, leading AP to make the call.

The Board of Elections said less than 4,000 absentee ballots remained outstanding after the Tuesday release, making Adams’ lead effectively insurmountable. The outstanding ballots featured errors that voters are allowed to fix, or ‘cure,’ by Friday if they wish to have them counted, the board said. 

Dave Wasserman, House editor of the Cook Political Report, agreed, tweeting: ‘It’s been a wild ride, but I’ve finally seen enough: Eric Adams (D) is the apparent winner of the NYC Democratic mayoral primary, defeating Kathryn Garcia (D).’ 

Adams, a veteran political operator, has promised to crack down on crime in the city

Adams, a veteran political operator, has promised to crack down on crime in the city

Adams, a veteran political operator, has promised to crack down on crime in the city

Wasserman, known for his election analysis, said that Garcia performed less well when absentee ballots were counted.

‘How did Adams win? Garcia didn’t get as much of an RCV boost from absentee voters as in-person voters,’ he tweeted. 

‘By my math… In-person voters: Adams 32%-19% 1st choice, Garcia 46%-24% non-1st choice. 

‘Absentee voters: Adams 24%-21% 1st choice, Garcia 40%-26% non-1st choice.’  

Adams’ main Democratic rivals included Garcia, who campaigned as a technocrat and proven problem-solver, and former City Hall legal advisor Maya Wiley, who had progressive support including an endorsement from U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Andrew Yang, the 2020 presidential candidate known for his proposed universal basic income, was an early favorite but faded in the race. 

Wiley – who filed court papers last week to reserve her right to request a recount -also refused to concede and criticized the Board of Elections for their vote counting error that plunged the primary into chaos last week.

‘We will have more to say about the next steps shortly,’ said Wiley. 

‘Today, we simply must recommit ourselves to a reformed Board of Elections and build new confidence in how we administer voting in New York City. 

‘New York City’s voters deserve better, and the BOE must be completely remade following what can only be described as a debacle.’

Voting in the primary ended on June 22. 

Early returns showed Adams in the lead, but New Yorkers had to wait for tens of thousands of absentee ballots to be counted and for rounds of tabulations done under the new ranked choice system.

Under the system, voters ranked up to five candidates for mayor in order of preference. Candidates with too few votes to win were eliminated and ballots cast for them redistributed to the surviving contenders, based on the voter preference, until only two were left.

The city’s first experience with the system in a major election was bumpy. 

As votes were being tallied on June 29, elections officials bungled the count by inadvertently including 135,000 old test ballots. 

Erroneous vote tallies were posted for several hours before officials acknowledged the error and took them down.

The mistake had no impact on the final outcome of the race.

Adams is a moderate Democrat who opposed the ‘defund the police’ movement.

‘We’re not going to recover as a city if we turn back time and see an increase in violence, particularly gun violence,’ Adams said, after three people including a 4-year-old girl were shot and wounded in Times Square in May.

‘If black lives really matter, it can’t only be against police abuse. It has to be against the violence that’s ripping apart our communities,’ he told supporters the night of the primary.

But Adams is a study in contradictions who at different times has been a defender of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, a registered Republican and a Democratic state senator thriving in a world of backroom deals.

Adams speaks frequently of his dual identity as a 22-year police veteran and a black man who endured police brutality himself as a teenager. He said he was beaten by officers at age 15.

Adams became a police officer in 1984 and rose to the rank of captain before leaving to run for the state Senate in 2006.

While in the police department, he co-founded 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, a group that campaigned for criminal justice reform and against racial profiling.

After winning a state Senate seat from Brooklyn in 2006, Adams made an impression with an impassioned speech favoring same-sex marriage rights in 2009, two years before New York’s state legislators passed a marriage equality bill.

Adams also weathered a few controversies, including a 2010 report from the state inspector general that faulted his oversight of the bidding process to bring casino gambling to the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. Adams had accepted campaign contributions from a politically connected group bidding for the gambling franchise.

Adams was elected in 2013 as Brooklyn borough president, his current job.

Adams is a vegan who credits a plant-based diet with reversing his diabetes. He has a 25-year-old son, Jordan Coleman, with a former girlfriend. 

His current partner is Tracey Collins, an educator who holds an administrative job in the city’s public school system.

Journalists raised questions during the race about where Adams lived. 

He was born in Brooklyn, walked the beat there as a cop, owns real estate there and represented it in the state Senate. But he slept in his office in Brooklyn Borough Hall for months during the pandemic and opponents noted that he shares a place with his partner in Fort Lee, New Jersey.

Adams gave reporters a tour of a basement apartment in Brooklyn that he said was his primary residence.

Adams can be a charismatic speaker but has also said cringe-worthy utterances, such as his 1993 suggestion that Herman Badillo, a Puerto Rican-born politician, should have married a Latina instead of a white, Jewish woman.

Speaking at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event last year, Adams complained about gentrifiers moving to the city from elsewhere.

‘Go back to Iowa. You go back to Ohio,’ Adams said. 

‘New York City belongs to the people that were here and made New York City what it is.’

 

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