Governor Andrew Cuomo chose John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Hell’s Kitchen to “commence a border war” to stop New York’s gun violence crisis.

Governor Andrew Cuomo at John Jay College of Criminal Justice this afternoon. Photo: Don Pollard/Office of Governor.

The Governor said that an increase in shootings throughout the state — and markedly in New York City — was: “like COVID. It’s a matter of life and death.”

Cuomo declared the first-in-the-nation gun violence disaster emergency as part of what he described as “a comprehensive strategy to build a safer New York”. He intends to treat gun violence as a public health crisis.

“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,” he told the assembled elected officials and advocates.

The State is creating the Office of Gun Violence Prevention which will track gun violence hotspots and deploy resources. Cuomo signed an Executive Order that required local police departments to share incident-level data.

The Governor has also created a new State Police Gun Trafficking Interdiction Unit to “commence a border war” in a bid to stop the flood of illegal guns that come into New York from states with weak gun safety laws. While New York State has the strongest gun safety laws in the country, 74% of crime guns used in criminal activity across the state were purchased out of state.

Over the 4th of July weekend, 51 people were shot — and 13 died of COVID

He stressed that much of the work would be done through police-community relations in partnership with John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

New York State will invest $138 million in intervention, prevention and jobs programs to “engage at-risk youth and get young people off the streets,” he said.

The Governor pointed to recent crime figures: “We’re building New York back better than ever before, but part of rebuilding is addressing the systemic injustices that were exposed by COVID. Over the 4th of July weekend, 51 people were shot — and 13 died of COVID. When we see an injustice we don’t look the other way, we stand up and fight it because that’s the New York way.”

As with COVID, the State plans to use a cluster-based strategy to contain and combat the epidemic and identify gun violence hot spots where clusters of shootings are driven by small numbers of people. Cuomo said that hot spots identified in New York City, Albany, Buffalo, Syracuse, and Long Island include just 4,090 young men aged 18-24 but account for 48.5 percent of recent gun violence in those communities.

“People are not coming back to this city — they’re not coming back to any city — until they know they are safe,” Cuomo said.

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