Democratic Westchester Board of Legislators Leaders Call for Stricter Gun Measures

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 21, 2012

Contact: Tom Staudter | ThomasS@westchesterlegislators.com | 914-995-2819 (office) | 914-815-4462 (cell)

Democratic BOL Leaders Call for Stricter Gun Measures

Bill Permanently Banning Gun Shows at County Center Proposed

White Plains, NY – The Democratic leaders of the Westchester County Board of Legislators promised to push for stricter gun measures today, including introducing both a bill that will permanently ban gun shows at the County Center and a resolution asking the federal government to pass permanent legislation banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines.

Additional gun control initiatives will be forthcoming in the upcoming weeks, said BOL Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers).

Former County Executive Andrew Spano banned the gun shows at the Westchester County Center following the Columbine shootings in 1999, with few complaints among residents. But County Executive Rob Astorino lifted the ban in 2010, and since then the gun shows at the County Center have returned. Following the Newtown, Connecticut shootings, Astorino said that “at this time…a contract renewal is not appropriate” for this year’s gun show, which was to take place in February.

The BOL’s Democratic leaders, however, feel Astorino is trying to buy time and stated they will be proposing a bill to permanently ban the guns shows from the County Center.

“There is no reason to allow gun shows at the County Center,” said Jenkins. “It is County property, and we control what activities are permitted there. We are sending the wrong message to our residents by allowing a County-owned facility to host an event that advances the proliferation of guns. The County Center attracts families and young people to many of its events, and they should not have to see the all-out promotion of a gun show when they are there for fun and enjoyment.”

In regard to the federal legislation banning assault weapons, or “military style weapons,” as President Obama refers to these high-powered automatic and semi-automatic rifles, the BOL Democratic leaders promised to introduce a resolution calling for the New York Congressional delegation to support the bill.

Congresswoman Nita Lowey, who represents a portion of Westchester, is a co-sponsor of the bill.

“There is no reason why citizens outside of the military or law enforcement should be allowed to own assault weapons,” said BOL Vice Chair Lyndon Williams (D-Mount Vernon). “They are lethal objects meant to kill and maim. Strict regulation of these weapons needs to be enacted immediately or more innocent people will be killed.”

Regulating assault weapons should not be confused with taking away the right for citizens to own guns, said BOL Majority Leader Pete Harckham (D-Katonah).

“Most gun owners understand the need to control the sale and use of assault weapons,” said Harckham. “In the end, there is no good argument for allowing the casual sale of this kind of lethal firepower anywhere in the country. It’s time for the U.S. to follow the lead of many other nations around the world that have outlawed these weapons.”

In addition, the Democratic BOL leaders will initiate a BOL committee review of how residents are being treated in the County’s mental health system.

“It’s important for the Board of Legislators to find out what more we can do to help those with mental illness,” said Legislator MaryJane Shimsky (D-Hastings-on-Hudson), the BOL’s majority Whip. “The County has entirely outsourced its obligation to care for the mentally ill under the Astorino Administration, and we need to make sure this arrangement is benefitting those who need help.”

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=Bazzo 12/21/12

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