HUD Archives: Letter to New York Local Officials

 April 6, 2000

Dear Local Official:

We write to ask you to join us and other New Yorkers to take the lead in making our communities safer from gun violence.

As you know, gun crime is one of the toughest problems facing America today, with over 30,000 people killed and 100,000 injured by guns each year. Nonetheless we have made remarkable progress over the past seven years in reducing gun violence through a series of measures that have helped cities and counties fight crime, including adding 100,000 police to our streets, imposing stiffer prison sentences for criminals, and requiring criminal background checks for gun purchases under the Brady Law. Yet we all know that more needs to be done to keep the crime rate heading down - particularly in ways that keep guns out of the wrong hands.

One gun manufacturer, Smith & Wesson, recently signed a courageous agreement with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which requires it to take responsibility for the use of its products. It agreed to a code of responsible conduct that will make it harder for children to fire guns accidentally and to stop criminals from acquiring guns through gun runners, straw purchasers and other means.

Smith & Wesson realized that while most gun owners and gun retailers are honest, law abiding, and responsible individuals, a segment of this group is irresponsible and dangerous. About one percent of gun retailers, for example, sell more than half of the guns traced to crime. Certain gun manufacturers, particularly a small subset located in California, produce guns designed to appeal to criminals. Gun shows, which are mostly populated by gun enthusiasts and sportsmen, also cater to criminal elements who can exploit the gun show loophole to acquire guns without a background check. And even today, after all of the tragedies we have witnessed with children killing children, many families still do not have safety locks on their guns, because most manufacturers consider gun safety an option, not a requirement.

Smith & Wesson agreed to a code of conduct that addresses every one of these serious problems in a way that does not hinder law abiding gun owners. We believe that if every gun manufacturer agreed to a code of responsible business conduct like the Smith & Wesson agreement, children would be safer and criminals would have a much more difficult time acquiring guns.

Now we are asking for your help to convince other gun manufacturers to accept a code of conduct that makes them responsible gun citizens.

We now have the historic opportunity to keep the momentum moving forward by joining together in the Communities for Safer Guns Coalition and pledging to give consideration in our procurement of weapons, when all other law enforcement considerations are equal, to companies agreeing to abide by codes of responsible conduct that will make our communities safer. We have enclosed a copy of the pledge setting out the purpose of the coalition.

Our collective effort to support responsible gun manufacturers is already taking hold across the country, and is beginning to make a difference. To date, we have nearly 70 mayors, county executives, town supervisors and other officials who have pledged to support buying their firearms from those manufacturers who agree to make safer guns. That is the good news. The troubling news is that the gun lobby is trying to punish Smith & Wesson for doing what we all know is right. We believe that no matter what your views are in the debate over proposed gun safety laws, you will agree that the code agreed to by Smith & Wesson will help our communities.

Please join us in our efforts to stop needless gun violence by joining the Coalition and signing the pledge. We still have much to do to solve the problem of gun violence, and we look forward to working with you to make this happen.

 Sincerely yours,
Andrew Cuomo
U.S. Department of Housing
and Urban Development
  Charles E. Schumer
United States Senate


Content Archived: December 13, 2009