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Cuomo declares state of emergency over New York gun violence

Cuomo declares emergency over gun violence
Don Pollard/Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, joined by elected officials and advocates, makes an announcement and signs executive orders making gun violence a public health emergency in New York State at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City Tuesday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency Tuesday to address an uptick in gun violence across New York and the rest of the country.

Cuomo, during a briefing, announced he wants to spend $138 million to treat gun violence the way the state addressed the COVID-19 pandemic, by tracking outbreaks with data and science and targeting hotspots with outreach and policing. This comes less than a month after the state let an emergency order over the pandemic expire.

“We want to do with gun violence what we just did with COVID. That’s what we want,” Cuomo said. “We want the same level of attention; the same level of energy.”

The announcement comes after a deadly Independence Day weekend in New York City that saw 35 people shot. That was a decrease of over 50% from the same weekend last year, but overall gun violence in the city has increased over 30% compared to last year, with 895 victims.

The state plans to create a council to offer recommendations on ways to target hotspots based on law enforcement data. This includes building community programs and job training for at-risk young men of color who Cuomo said are involved in nearly half of all gun violence in the state.

The emergency declaration, Cuomo said, allows the state to increase funding for these programs.

The governor also plans to increase policing at state borders to prevent illegal guns from coming into the state. To do that, he wants to share traffic stop data with neighboring states and local law enforcement to keep illegal gun smugglers out.

“We know where they are coming from. They are coming from the South and we are going to declare a border war to stop it,” he said.

Cuomo said his goal is to get guns off the street and out of the hands of at-risk people. He said that involves rebuilding the relationship between police and their communities with reforms to better respond to mental health and substance use disputes that end in gun violence.

Cuomo’s plans also include police reform to better respond to mental health and substance use disputes that often end in gun violence.

“When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. You only have one tool. Well, when all you have are cuffs and a gun then the only thing that amounts to is an arrest. That is all you have and all you can do. That does not work anymore,” he said.