Gov. Andrew Cuomo has declared gun violence in New York as a Disaster Emergency, freeing up extra funding and resources to combat shootings statewide.
The first-in-the-nation Executive Order came on Tuesday at a time when New York City and the country as a whole are struggling to curtail the spike in gun violence.
Speaking during an event at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Cuomo said his plan includes short-term and long-term measures that treat gun violence as a public health crisis.
Cuomo said the Office of Gun Violence Prevention will be created as part of his strategy, which includes a $138.7 million investment in intervention and prevention programs.
“We want to do with gun violence what we did with COVID,” Cuomo said. “It’s a matter of saving lives.”
"If you look at the recent numbers, more people are now dying from gun violence and crime than COVID - this is a national problem but someone has to step up and address this problem because our future depends on it," Cuomo said.
Fifty-one people were shot across New York State over the Fourth of July weekend in comparison to 13 who died from Covid-19, he said.
This year, the state is on pace for 621 gun violence deaths, up from 594 in 2020 and 393 in 2019, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
In New York City, over 1,500 shooting incidents were recorded in 2020, nearly almost twice as many as 2019.
The governor also described gun violence as a civil rights injustice that overwhelmingly impacts poor, Black and Latino communities.
He said young people in such communities are three to 10 times as liable as whites to be victims of gun violence.
"We're building New York back better than ever before, but part of rebuilding is addressing the systemic injustices that were exposed by COVID," he said.