The representatives were joined by former Congressman Floyd Flake, former Councilmember Archie Spigner, and local civic and community leaders, as well as residents outside of the 113th Precinct on Baisley Boulevard as they protested the rise of local shootings in Jamaica and the surrounding community and called for action to be taken against the use of guns.
“These acts of senseless violence must come to an end,” Smith said as he pointed out three recent shootings that occurred in Queens within the last four months in Laurelton, Far Rockaway and Jamaica. “Sadly, the list goes on and on.”
The increased shootings that have recently plagued Southeast Queens have residents worried and has caused concerns about the safety of the community. But representatives like Smith are calling for a statewide anti-gun initiative as part of the solution to get guns off the street in every community.
The initiative, Operation SNUG, aims to decrease violence and calls for other states to place an interest in the way guns are sold and obtained.
“Through our commitment to SNUG, we can put a stop to that deadly trend now,” Smith said. “White or black, rich or poor, illegal guns terrorize our neighborhoods and tears apart families.”
Operation SNUG works by utilizing community-based organizations who put together small teams of “violence interrupters” and community outreach staff. They will coordinate efforts with police, community leaders and faith leaders in an effort to end gun violence.
Smith said the Arizona shooting this past weekend was a clear indication that something like SNUG is needed and should become a national initiative. Smith noted that programs like the gun buyback program in New York should also be a nationwide initiative.
Another program he pointed to was micro-stamping – a process that Attorney General Eric Schneiderman supports - where lasers are used to make tiny internal engravings so that when a gun is fired, information is stamped onto the cartridge. The unique, stamped code containing information such as the make, model and serial number will aid investigators in tracking down the gun's last owner, where it was sold, and help lead them to the perpetrator.
McCarthy, whose husband was killed and son injured in a 1993 shooting, said that she knows what an injury like the one sustained by Giffords does to someone.
“We need to work with our communities, police officers and everyone to reduce gun violence in our community,” she said, noting that 10,000 die of gun violence each year, particularly young people.
McCarthy will be introducing legislation this week to limit access to the kinds of high-capacity ammunition clips used by shooter Jared Loughner, as well as the gunman who fired at her son and husband.
It is something that was in the assault weapons bill that expired in 2004. “It says that we as citizens also have a right to be in our communities and not be afraid,”she said.
A number of mothers who lost children to gun violence were also present. Andrea McGowan, whose 27-year-old son was shot three times in the chest and twice in the head on October 15 as he exited a grocery store, commended Smith and McCarthy's efforts to reduce gun violence. “We need them out here fighting for us,” she said.
Former Congressman Floyd Flake also urged residents to work with the local leaders. “When killings go on, when guns run rampant, people leave communities and go to places they consider to be safe," he said. "So we're not only losing lives, we're losing community and we cannot afford to lose more for this community.”