New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has issued on July 6 an executive order declaring gun violence as a “disaster emergency,” becoming the first state in the United States to do so.
“Just like we did with COVID, New York is going to lead the nation once again with a comprehensive approach to combating and preventing gun violence, and our first step is acknowledging the problem with a first-in-the-nation disaster emergency on gun violence,” Cuomo announced.
As part of a new strategy that treats gun violence as a public health crisis, the disaster emergency allows the state to expedite money and resources to immediately address gun violence.
Cuomo announced that the strategy includes the creation of the Office of the Gun Violence Prevention and a new Trafficking Interdiction Unit within the police department to stop the flow of illegal guns into New York from other states.
The executive order also requires major police departments to share incident-level data on gun violence with the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services for a weekly compilation, which the Office of the Gun Violence Prevention will use to identify and track emerging gun violence hotspots.
The strategy also includes a $138.7 million investment in intervention and prevention programs, including summer job programs for at-risk youth and a new hospital-based violence intervention program in hotspot communities to enable street outreach workers to respond to shooting victims directly.
Additionally, New York will increase the funding for sports, arts, and recreational facilities for the coming summer, with priority to identified hotspot communities.
The emergency declaration came after New York saw 51 shootings over the July 4 holiday weekend amid a rise of gun violence since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year.
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