“I want you to understand the extent of the problem. I want you to understand how serious this is,” Cuomo said in a live-telecast announcement as he cited data on shootings in the state that had claimed mostly young lives. “We want to do with gun violence what we did with COVID.”
Cuomo also signed before cameras a bill that would reinstate a public nuisance liability against gun manufacturers to make them liable to civil suits for injuries and deaths suffered by both individuals and the state from shootings.
“This is going to be a very big deal," Cuomo said, adding that the law was originally scuttled in 2000 by then-President George Bush, who signed an enactment that virtually gave gun manufacturers immunity against any civil suits related to shootings.
"We went from one epidemic to another epidemic," Cuomo said. "We went from COVID to the epidemic of gun violence. More people are dying of gun violence than of COVID."
Over the July 4 weekend, 14 people were shot in Buffalo, 5 were shot in Syracuse, three were shot on Long Island, two people were shot in Utica, one person - in Rochester, and 26 people were shot in NYC, Cuomo said.
Gun violence in New York has surged even as other crimes such as rape, robbery and larceny at their lowest since at least 2015, data showed.
Cuomo's declaration presents a seven-point plan on how to tackle the issue:
Gov. Cuomo declares a disaster emergency on gun violence with an executive order.— Jesse Rodriguez (@JesseRodriguez) July 6, 2021
The order, which Cuomo says is the first of its kind in the nation, aims to treat gun violence like a public health issue. pic.twitter.com/wdtc8hKecl
Nationally, deaths from shootings are up 18 percent year-over-year in major US cities, and that's after 2020 brought the largest single-year increase ever recorded, according to data.
Debates about gun control were reignited in the United States at the beginning of the year amid mass shootings across the country. President Joe Biden has been promising harsh action to curb gun violence in the country since his inauguration. Gun sales, which jumped sharply during the early 2020 pandemic, meanwhile continue to increase. Some 39% of US households are in possession of guns now, an increase from 32% in 2016.