|HUD No. 00-150|
|Further Information:||For Release|
|In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685||Tuesday|
|Or contact your local HUD office||June 27, 2000|
COMMUNITIES FOR SAFER GUNS COALITION JOIN CUOMO IN CRITICIZING EFFORT IN CONGRESS TO KILL THE COALITION
NEW YORK - Members of the Communities for Safer Guns Coalition from around New York State joined U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo today in criticizing attempts by gun lobby extremists and some in Congress to shut down the Coalition.
Last week, the House of Representatives approved an amendment offered by Mr. Hostettler of Indiana to HUDs appropriations bill that would prohibit HUD from spending funds to administer the Communities for Safer Guns Coalition.
"The Hostettler amendment makes a bad bill worse," Cuomo said. "The amendment adds to a series of problems the Administration has already identified with the bill. Unless the Congress appropriately addresses these many concerns, I and the Presidents senior advisors would recommend to the President that he veto the bill."
"With this program, we make a pact with gun manufacturers that if they put safety first, we will put them first," U.S. Senator Charles Schumer said. "I am delighted that so many cities and towns in New York have already joined the Coalition and I hope that New York City becomes the newest member. Last week, the House passed legislation that would effectively eliminate the Coalition that is not responsible legislation and I will work with my colleagues to ensure that provision does not become law."
"This is a matter of local control," said U.S. Representative Carolyn McCarthy. "More than 400 communities around the country including Nassau County have agreed to this and the Congress should not meddle."
"I applaud the tremendous work that Secretary Cuomo has undertaken to continue and expand the effort to get municipalities to favor responsible gun manufacturers," New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said. "This is a critical part of our effort to rid communities of gun violence. Now is the time for Congress to take up the charge."
"The New York City Council supports any effort to make gun manufacturers more responsible," City Council Speaker Peter Vallone said. "Gun violence tragically takes the lives of thousands of New Yorkers every year and much of it could be avoided if the gun manufacturers would take some common sense precautions. Resolution 1332 will use the Citys procurement power to force gun manufacturers to crack down on the flood of illegal guns that enter our City each year and to develop safety and design features that will prevent unlawful and accidental discharges."
The Secretary also was scheduled today to testify before a New York City Council Committee in favor of a resolution introduced by Council Speaker Peter Vallone encouraging the City to join the Coalition. Other Council Members sponsoring the resolution are: Adolfo Carrion, Una Clarke, Noach Dear, Kenneth Fisher, Kathryn Freed, Howard Lasher, Sheldon Leffler, Walter McCaffrey, Stanley Michels, Michael Nelson, Jerome ODonovan, Mary Pinkett, Morton Povman, Phillip Reed, Victor Robles, Annette Robinson, John Sabini and Al Stabile.
"Both Democrats and Republicans are in this Coalition, because gun violence kills and wounds Republicans, Democrats and independents on a non-partisan basis," Cuomo said. "New York City would be an important member of this group, and its participation in the Coalition would send a clear message to gun makers that common-sense reforms make good business sense."
The Communities for Safer Guns Coalition is made up of officials from more than 400 state and local governments around the nation. Coalition members pledge to support giving favorable consideration to making gun purchases for their police departments from gun manufacturers that have adopted a set of new gun safety and dealer responsibility standards designed to reduce gun violence in their respective jurisdictions. The preference applies to comparable weapons available at a comparable price that meet law enforcement agency needs.
Smith & Wesson the nations largest handgun maker became the first and so far only company to adopt new gun safety standards March 17, in a landmark agreement with the Clinton Administration and state and local officials. The standards are intended to assure that manufacturers design, distribute and market guns to make them safer and to help keep them out of the hands of children and criminals.
The purchase preference by governments for safer guns is designed to encourage manufacturers to adopt those standards much as the demand for certain types of cars by motorists prompts auto makers to make more such vehicles.
The agreement signed by Smith & Wesson requires that the company, among other things: 1) Install mandatory gun locks and other child-safety devices on all guns. 2) Introduce "smart gun" technology in all newly designed handguns within three years that allows guns to be fired only by the owner. 3) Bar gun sales including gun show sales without a background check of the buyer. 4) Limit the delivery of multiple handgun sales. 5) Stop doing business with dealers responsible for selling a disproportionate number of guns used in crimes.
The agreement is the product of negotiations between the White House, HUD, the Treasury Department and state and local governments with Smith & Wesson that were designed to settle lawsuits already filed against the company and to make new ones unnecessary. Local governments, the federal government, and the Attorneys General of Connecticut and New York agreed to drop pending lawsuits or not bring possible lawsuits against Smith & Wesson after the company adopted the new standards.
If other gun makers adopt standards like those agreed to by Smith & Wesson, they will also get favorable consideration by Coalition members in the purchase of guns.
In another move to encourage gun manufacturers to adopt standards of responsible conduct, 32 local governments have filed lawsuits against the gun industry. New York became the first state to file suit on Monday, when Spitzer sued nine gun makers, three importers and 12 wholesalers but did not include Smith & Wesson in the lawsuits because of the agreement it signed. Spitzer charges that the businesses he is suing with contributing to and maintaining a public nuisance through ongoing production and distribution practices.
Members of the Communities for Safer Guns Coalition in New York State include officials from: Akron, Albany, Amsterdam, Auburn, Babylon, Baldwinsville, Bethany, Binghamton, Brighton, Bronx, Brooklyn, Buffalo, Byron, Chateaugay, Chester, Chestnut Ridge, Chozy, Colonie, Constable, Coventry, Croton-on-Hudson, Cuba, Darien, East Hampton, Elmira, Erie County, Evans, Freeport, Geneseo, Glen Cove, Greenburgh, Green Island, Hempstead, Holley, Hornell, Ithaca, LaGrange, Le Roy, Liberty, Long Beach, Lyons, Madison County, Manhattan, Middletown, Manlius, Mount Morris, Mount Vernon, Nassau County, New Castle, New Paltz, New Rochelle, New Square, New York City, New York State, Niagara County, North Hempstead, North Tonawanda, Olive, Oneonta, Orangetown, Orchard Park, Ossining, Oyster Bay, Plattekill, Plattsburgh, Pomona, Queens, Ramapo, Rockville Center, Russia, Saratoga Springs, Schenectady, Southampton, Southold, Springfield, Spring Valley, Staten Island, Troy, Unionville, Utica, Westdchester County, Wurtsboro, and Yorkshire.
Additional Comments at Communities for Safer Guns Coalition Press Conference
New York City, New York
June 27, 2000
"Buffalo welcomes any and all initiatives to prevent firearms from falling into the wrong hands," Mayor Anthony Masiello said. "Gun violence is an epidemic and it demands a systemic remedy. We applaud Secretary Cuomos Safer Guns initiative and we urge Congress to join in the applause. If we are serious about building better cities, we must be serious about building safer cities."
"If we are to provide safer communities for our residents and children, we have to work together at all levels of government to ensure responsible gun use and manufacturing," said Albany Mayor Gerald Jennings. "I applaud Secretary Cuomos leadership on this issue and on behalf of Albany, pledge my resources to making the Coalition for Safe Guns as strong and effective a tool as possible to achieve our shared goal."
"I am in full support of Secretary Cuomos efforts to promote gun safety and reduce gun violence. We need the support of every area and at every level of government to join in this fight to control the sale of guns," said May Newberger, Supervisor, the Town of North Hempstead. "This is clearly an effort to save lives."