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Partnership, coalition of business chambers urge feds to ban assault weapons

Smith & Wesson M&P15 semi-automatic rifles of the AR-15 style are displayed during the National Rifle Association (NRA) annual meeting at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas on May 28.
Patrick T. Fallon
/
AFP via Getty Images
Smith & Wesson M&P15 semi-automatic rifles of the AR-15 style are displayed during the National Rifle Association (NRA) annual meeting at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas on May 28.

The Buffalo Niagara Partnership is one of several chambers of commerce from across New York State who are, as a coalition calling on Congress to ban assault weapons at the federal level.

A previous federal ban on assault weapons lapsed in 2004. Business leaders joining in Monday’s online call for a new ban look to a number of recent mass shootings, including the one last month in Buffalo, for them to take this position.

“We think this is common sense gun reform and a responsible step this country should take,” said Dottie Gallagher, president and chief executive officer of the Partnership. “While gun control may not be a typical lane for chambers of commerce, there is no avoiding the impact gun violence is having on our country and in our communities. And we have an obligation to be part of solving this American problem.”

Other participants include the Business Council of New York State, Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, and the Business Council of Westchester. Leaders of each organization say gun reform is an important step towards restoring faith in the security of workplaces, for the employees and their customers.

“After the pandemic, I think all of us realized that we did need to be able to find a pathway for people to return to work. And it's all about creating those safe havens,” said John Ravitz, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the Business Council of Westchester. “We want folks to feel safe coming to work. But as they're coming back to work, they sure as heck should feel and have the knowledge that their children are safe, whether they're in school, or in daycare, or in their parks, or just walking in their communities. And we're not there now, as a country.”

Coalition members acknowledged that in the interest of haste, they had not yet corresponded with other chambers, but the hope is they, and the immediate populations they serve, will come aboard and join the call.

Participants provided data from the Violence Project, which has tracked 172 mass shootings since 1966. According to their figures:

  • 40 mass shootings since 1966 or 23% had an employment-related motivation.

  • 53 mass shootings (30%) have occurred in the gunman’s own workplace.

  • Current or former workplaces of perpetrators were the most common sites for mass shootings. Most of the shooters had been fired.

  • 52 mass shootings have occurred in private businesses, most common retail and restaurants/bars.

  • Data shows these are mainly random attacks with the gunman not knowing or seeking out a specific victim compared to church and school victims generally having a target.

“It's not a heavy lift to ask for an assault weapons ban at the federal level, so that we don't have state by state opportunities for people to go somewhere else to purchase something that is not legal in their state,” said Heather Briccetti, president and CEO of the Business Council of New York State.