Brooklyn lawmakers and community activist organizations braved the rain and kicked off June as Gun Violence Awareness month with a rally on the steps of city hall calling on increased government funding on all levels as well as to take further action with gun laws in the city and beyond.

    Former Crown Heights Assemblyman Karim Camara introduced June as Gun Violence Awareness Month in 2012 as a statewide initiative to bring attention to the issue. Among the Queens lawmakers at the rally included City Councilmembers Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica) and Francisco Moya (D-East Elmhurst, Corona).

    “Time and again, we are heartbroken by the news of another shooting,” said Adams. “Part of our healing must be the conviction that we will do everything in our power to keep these tragedies from happening in a nation that continues to face this pandemic. The time is now to stand up for all our children and communities and protect them against gun violence.”

    Many of the speakers addressed the fact that while mass shootings draw the bulk of media attention, gun violence is a daily reality in many communities, especially low income areas and communities of color. They called for increased investment in the communities themselves and in the groups which fight gun violence on a local level, often through the Crisis Management System and the Cure Violence initiative.

    Advocates surround a casket representative of those who have been victims of gun violence. Photo Credit: RJ Sonbeek

    This past year marked the safest year since the 1950s, according to NYPD statistics, with shootings at a level 20% lower than the previous year. Areas in which Cure Violence was implemented saw an even greater drop in the rates of homicide and gun crimes than did other areas, which advocates and elected officials pointed to as proof of the programs’ effectiveness and the need for expansion of these programs.

    “New York is proof that stronger gun laws mean fewer gun deaths. For years, this state has been at the forefront of gun violence prevention. We’ve adopted common-sense laws that have helped New York achieve one of the lowest gun-death rates in the country. That’s something to be proud of, but we can’t rest on our laurels. We can and must do more,” said Moya.

    “We can’t just focus on the horrific pandemic of mass shootings but also the less sensational incidents tragedies – the ones that happen between domestic partners, on street corners in Queens and Brooklyn and the Bronx, and when children find their parents loaded and unlocked firearms. The NRA and the gun lobby may be able to cow some politicians in Washington, but here in New York, we will fight those special interest groups to protect our communities from senseless gun violence,” he added.

    Gun Violence Awareness Month will include a number of events aimed at raising awareness of and finding solutions to the epidemic of gun violence in New York City and around the country. For more on the month and to view a calendar of the events occurring, visit GunViolenceAwarenessMonth.com.

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