New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday declared gun violence a statewide disaster emergency and rolled out measures aimed at cracking down on what he branded a “new epidemic” of shootings.
Cuomo’s announcement came a day after the U.S. celebrated the Fourth of July weekend and a return to a post-pandemic normalcy, but gun violence also returned, with at least 180 people killed in close to 400 shootings across the U.S. over the holiday, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that tracks shootings nationwide,
It reported 189 people killed and 516 injured in shootings over a 72-hour period from Friday to Monday evening. In total, there were more than 540 shootings over the holiday weekend.
In New York City, police said Monday that 64 people were shot, and 11 people killed over the holiday.
Cuomo rolled out measures aimed at cracking down on what he branded a “new epidemic” of shootings.
He said the disaster emergency order is the first of its kind in the country and allows the state to quickly allocate money and other resources to areas of New York where gun violence is rampant.
Cuomo said gun violence must be treated as a public health emergency on par with the COVID-19 pandemic. “If you can beat COVID, you can beat gun violence,” the governor said. “We’re in a new epidemic, and it’s gun violence, and it’s a matter of life and death also.”
Cuomo also announced the creation of a new police gun-trafficking unit to address the surge of “illegal guns that come into New York from states with weak gun safety laws”.
The governor’s order came just hours after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that data from the city’s police department shows murders and shootings in the city have decreased year over year. Shooting incidents in the city were down by 20 percent in June, and murder was down 23 percent. The number of shooting victims also fell by 26 percent.
In Buffalo, New York, 21 people, including a 3-year-old boy, were shot in 13 incidents over the three-day weekend, according to the city’s police.
The most shootings in the U.S. during the holiday period occurred in Chicago: at least 95, according to the Chicago Tribune, which reported that at least 16 people died from injuries suffered from shootings from about 5 pm Friday to 8 pm Monday. Last year, nearly 90 people were shot in Chicago over the Fourth of July weekend, and 17 of them died.
Several mass shootings, which are commonly defined as shootings that involve four or more victims of gunfire, also occurred over the holiday weekend, with at least 18 people killed and 71 wounded in 18 such shootings, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
Between Friday afternoon and Monday morning, the Los Angeles Police Department recorded 12 killings, and the Sheriff’s Department reported at least four more.
In Chicago, among those wounded were two members of the city’s police department who suffered non-life-threatening wounds when they attempted to break up a crowd following Fourth of July gatherings. In addition to the officers, a 6-year-old girl and her mother were shot. That shooting happened less than an hour after a drive-by shooting in Washington Park on the city’s South Side that left two people dead and four wounded.
At least 33 officers in the city have been shot at or shot in the line of duty this year, according to the police department, which said it had recovered more than 6,100 guns so far this year — a 26 percent increase from the same period last year.
Chicago has had 326 murders year to date, a 1 percent increase since last year, according to city police. There have been 1,489 shooting incidents in the city so far this year, a 12 percent increase from last year’s figure of 1,333 year to date, police added.
In Texas, five men were shot to death in Dallas; in Norfolk, Virginia, a 15-year-old boy wounded four children between the ages of 6 and 16 on Friday; and in Toledo, Ohio, a 17-year-old boy was killed and 12 people were wounded early Monday in a shooting at a block party attended by several hundred people, according to police.
“We should be angry,” said Toledo Police Chief George Kral. “We need to come together as a community. We’ve seen violence like this in this country all year long, and now it’s hit home.”