Lawmakers, Set to Convene in Albany, Make Confronting Gun Violence Surge Top Priority

ZACK FINK

July 11, 2020

Originally published in NY1 on July 11, 2020.

As Mayor de Blasio laid out his plan to confront a stark rise in shootings, he was joined by State Senator Brian Benjamin of Harlem, who has been working to help end the bloodshed, some of which has been concentrated in his district.

“We are so concerned about some of the gun violence that has been happening in our community,” Benjamin said Friday. “And we are committed to being part of the solution. Everyone has an analysis of the problem. It’s more important at this moment that we have solutions and those solutions include every single one of us.”

Some have blamed the violence on bail reform that was passed in Albany last year, and took effect in January. Assembly Republicans held a press conference Friday to express their concerns.

“I think we’ve all seen the reports, we’ve seen the statistics, we’ve seen the violent incidents, the tragedy playing out on our streets,” said Will Barclay, the Republican Assembly Minority Leader And frankly, it’s our thought that things are getting out of control. You may be aware New York City has seen the bloodiest summer it has seen in decades.”

But supporters of the bail reform say there really isn’t enough data to determine whether it’s led to a spike in shootings, especially since most of the city spent the last four months on lockdown.

Governor Cuomo said he believes it’s a confluence of factors, including early releases from Rikers due to COVID-19 concerns.

“There is a negative synergy that is going on, right? You had the Rikers releases, you had the ongoing relationship between the community and the police. How is that affecting the NYPD? Some of the arrest numbers appear to be down,” Cuomo said Wednesday.

Lawmakers will hold committee meetings next week in anticipation of a full four-day session the following week, where the bills that passed through committee can go to the floor for a full vote. 

While there may be some big ticket items, this is mostly an opportunity to pass all the local bills that they failed to pass in June. And most members will be voting remotely.