NEW YORK, United States – New York’s governor issued new emergency measures to fight gun violence Tuesday, as he made it easier for shooting victims to sue gun manufacturers.
Andrew Cuomo declared gun violence a “disaster emergency,” against a backdrop of rising crime in New York City and across the United States.
He unveiled special measures aimed at curbing an increase in shootings that have beset New York City since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in spring last year.
“If you look at the recent numbers, more people are now dying from gun violence and crime than COVID,” Cuomo said in a press release.
“This is a national problem but someone has to step up and address this problem because our future depends on it,” he added.
The governor said he was appointing a special coordinator for the prevention of gun violence attached to the state’s health services.
The office will have to coordinate with social services, prison services, police forces and others.
A special police unit to fight the trafficking of firearms from other states will also be created.
New York has some of the strictest gun laws in America but it is easy to travel and buy weapons in the neighboring states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, which are more lax.
Cuomo also announced $138 million of investment in intervention and prevention programs, including $76 million to create jobs for young people deemed most at risk.
The governor signed two laws into effect on Tuesday as well.
One “public nuisance liability” law makes it easier for civilians to bring lawsuits against gun makers and dealers.
Manufacturers have been largely exempt from liability by federal law, which the New York law will circumvent.
The second is designed to prevent those wanted for crimes from being able to acquire a weapon.
These measures come as New York and the US face a sharp rise in crime since last summer.
The country’s major cities saw a 30 percent increase in homicides in 2020, with Republicans accusing Democratic leaders of negligence.
President Joe Biden introduced measures on June 23 to limit the flow of firearms but a divided Congress makes it difficult for Democrats to pass laws.