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Cuomo declares gun violence a disaster emergency, pledges $140 million in state funds

Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Governor 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.

“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 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 local police departments to share incident-level data of shootings.

The lump sum includes a $57.5 million jobs program aiming to create 21,000 new jobs.

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 by Manhattan and Brooklyn state Sen. Brian Kavanagh and Westchester Assembly Member Amy Paulin will bar people with active warrants from buying firearms.

The governor’s slew of new programs came just hours after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that shootings were down citywide in June to 165 compared to 205 the same time last year, although that number is still well above the 89 gun incidents for that month in 2019.

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