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Remarks by HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo
Guns In Public Housing Press Conference

Wednesday, February 16, 2000

Thank you very much, good afternoon. Congresswoman McCarthy is a Congresswoman from Long Island who has taken her personal tragedy and turned it into a public service. She is a phenomenal advocate for Long Island, but she is also a powerful national voice, especially on this issue, and I'm very grateful that she could be here with us today. And I thank her for her kind words and her inspiration.

I'd like to thank Deputy Secretary Saul Ramirez, Assistant Secretary Wachter and her shop, the Office of Policy Development and Research, that put out this In the Crossfire report, Chief Hezekiah Bunch, who is doing great work in the Baltimore Housing Authority. Some of the most progressive things in any housing authority anywhere are happening here in Baltimore. Ms. Norris, thank you very much for coming down. Ms. Norris and I were neighbors from Morris Avenue in the Bronx, I built housing up on the Bronx. Namel, thank you very much for coming down and sharing your story with us today.

I think it's all been said. I'm left with a question when I hear the presentations that we heard just now. When you read these stories in the newspaper - Columbine, another two students in Columbine, two beautiful high school students who lost their lives here in the District of Columbia - the question is why? Why? Why the same story over and over and over again? Why? Why do 30,000 people fall victim to gun violence in this country every year? Why? Why does the United States of America have more gun violence then all the other industrial nations combined? Why?

Why, in just the largest housing authorities in the United States, does one person per day falls victim to gun violence? Why?

Why, when, as the Congresswoman said, the solution is so obvious and so easy? We are talking about sensible gun control. We are not talking about outlawing guns. No one is saying you can't have a gun, 10 guns, 100 guns. Sensible gun control, not outlawing guns at all. And put safety devices on guns that we already have. The cost is de minimus - why wouldn't you do it?

You put a safety cap on a jar of aspirin, a child-proof cap on a jar of aspirin. Why? Because maybe the jar of aspirin will be dangerous. Maybe the child will open the cap and take the aspirin. So we put a child-proof cap on it.

We have a safety device on a garage door opener, so that if it closes and it hits a child, it reverses. Why? Because maybe that garage door opener is going to be dangerous. Well, did it ever occur to you that a gun may be dangerous? Why don't you have the same type of safety device on a gun that you have on a jar of aspirin? Why? Is the industry that strong that it should overcome basic common sense and rationale and basic health and safety? Why?

President Clinton has a full agenda on this. This year, a $280 million agenda, more ATF agents, more prosecutors to prosecute gun crimes, sensible gun control. Sensible gun control. We are doing our part at HUD, with programs that reach out to people in public housing, and the communities that are in public housing. Drug elimination programs. Programs that will now help local communities map where the crimes occur, so they can reduce them.

But the message is very simple. There is no reason to hear this story over and over and over again. Pass the gun control laws, put the safety devices on guns that will reduce the number of tragedies. Make President Clinton's legislation a reality. Make the HUD programs a reality, and let's end this tragedy once and for all. Thank you all for coming. Any questions you might have, it will be our pleasure to answer. If the Congresswoman, and the Chief, and Ms. Norris join me, and we'll take any questions you might have.

Content Archived: January 20, 2009

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