Vidalia Park, Bronx, NY -- Six months after a gunman’s bullet shot through the arm of toddler Luis “Luisito” Oyola Jr., the brave young Bronxite and his family returned to scene of shooting with Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester) and Assemblyman Luis Sepulvelda (D-Bronx) to announce new anti-gun violence legislation named in his honor.
“Luisito’s Law”—introduced in the state legislature by Klein and Sepulveda this morning—would create two new criminal charges for gunmen who endanger the lives of young children. Under the legislation, gunmen who discharge a firearm within 500 feet of a park, playground, or schoolyard could be charged with a Class C felony, and face 3 ½-to-15 years in prison. The bill also creates a new charge for gunmen who shoot victims under 10-years-old. Those criminals would be subject to a Class B felony and face a minimum of 5-to-25 years in prison. Luisito’s shooter is currently awaiting trial for assault charges that carry a minimum penalty of only 1 ½-to-4 years in prison.
“We cannot allow our parks and playgrounds to become ground zero for senseless gun crimes,” said Senator Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester). “Right now, parks and playground are leaving children and families far too vulnerable. These should be safe havens, not shooting ranges. Luisito’s Law will send a very clear message to our state’s criminals: if you take aim at our children, we’ll fire right back.”
“Too often in my district and around the state I hear news of children injured by stray bullets from shootings in their neighborhoods,” Assemblyman Sepulveda (D-Bronx) stated. “It’s unacceptable that the man who shot three year old Luis faced less time in prison than a common thief. Today, we are taking the first step to change that reality. This legislation will send a message to criminals that if they bring violence into the lives of these innocent children, they will face serious time behind bars.”
On August 30th, 2013, while the Oyola family was enjoying a family outing in Vidalia Park, an argument broke out between two men around 6 p.m.. The dispute, settled with bullets, resulted in a gunshot wound to the arm of young Luisito, who was only three years old at the time. Luisito survived only after being rushed to St. Barnabas hospital.
Unfortunately, the violent incident that ruined a family outing for the Oyolas is only the most recent shooting of a young child inside of a Bronx park. Over the past two years, at least four other young children have been injured by gunfire in Bronx parks, including a separate incident at Vidalia Park in 2012. In the past two years, at least one child has been killed by gunfire at a Bronx playground.
“Luisito’s Law” is the lawmakers’ most recent attempt to curb gun violence in the Bronx. In January 2013, Senator Klein sponsored and co-authored the NY SAFE Act, a package of bills that gave New York the toughest new gun control laws in the nation. Two weeks ago, Senator Klein delivered a $300,000 grant to Jacobi Medical Center for the launch of an innovative and anti-gun violence initiative called Operation SNUG.