NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- The Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) approved a resolution in bipartisan and unanimous fashion tonight requesting that federal leaders enact stronger measures to prevent further gun violence. The resolution, which was voted on at tonight’s regular meeting of the BOL, is among the many governmental responses nationwide to the back-to-back tragedies in Newtown, Connecticut and Webster, New York involving senseless shootings and the murders of innocent people.
The BOL resolution was drafted together by Majority Leader Pete Harckham (D-Katonah) and Minority Leader Jim Maisano (R-New Rochelle) before receiving initial approval in the BOL Legislation Committee, chaired by Legislator Bill Ryan (D-White Plains). Mindful that there are many legitimate and lawful reasons for law-abiding citizens to own a firearm, the legislators’ work on the resolution included contributions from several members of the public concerned with gun rights.
“As elected officials, we have a responsibility to protect our communities by making sure that irresponsible gun dealers and those involved with illegal guns are brought to justice,” said Ryan. “Our law enforcement officials have to be able to combat illegal gun trafficking with increased access to data and much tougher laws to stop the flow of guns into the wrong hands.”
The resolution explicitly supports greater federal gun control measures, including mandated universal background checks on all gun sales, lifted database restrictions to allow local law officers access to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives information and increased sentencing penalties for criminals convicted of using firearms during violent crimes.
The Westchester legislators also want a federal protocol established that requires mental health providers to notify gun permit issuers of anyone involuntarily committed to a mental institution, or found to be a danger to themselves or others due to mental illness. All such information should be included and required on the National Insta Check System. The resolution also states that community-based mental health programs need increased federal funding.
“Gun control is a contentious issue, so it was important that the Board of Legislators were mindful of protecting the rights of gun owners while making a meaningful contribution to the federal gun violence prevention discussion,” said Harckham.
Other measures called for in the BOL’s Gun Violence Prevention Resolution include a ban on automatic military-style assault weapons and armor piercing bullets plus limiting gun ammunition capacity.
“We join elected officials at all levels of government in seeking ways to combat illegal gun violence,” said Maisano.