Eleven mayors from across New York state have sent a letter to lawmakers urging them to pass “critical gun sense legislation” before the end of this legislative session.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick, Kingston Mayor Steve Noble, Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy, White Plains City Mayor Thomas Roach, Troy Mayor Patrick Madden, Glens Falls Mayor Dan Hall, South Floral Park Mayor Geoffrey Prime, Sleepy Hollow Mayor Ken Wray, Piermont Mayor Bruce Tucker, and Pleasantville Mayor Peter Scherer sent the joint letter Tuesday.

The letter calls on the state legislature to pass gun control bills introduced by Assemblymember Patricia Fahy and Senator Zellnor Myrie, “amidst a statewide surge of deadly gun violence this year in local communities.”

The mayors say the “first-in-the-nation legislation” would help end the ‘Iron Pipeline’ or flow of illegal guns into New York from other states, adding that 74% of all guns recovered from violent crimes and shootings in New York State are traced to out-of-state purchases or acquisition.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said gun violence was continuing to wreak havoc in cities across New York State, and the level of that violence was unbearable.

“Dismantling the Iron Pipeline of illegal guns that devastates our communities is critical to ending this violence. Local governments cannot do this alone,” she said.

“I implore the Senate and Assembly to pass this legislation as soon as possible.”  

The bill in question removes immunity from gun manufacturers granted by civil liability law under the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act in New York State. This law currently gives the gun industry a unique protection no other industry enjoys in the U.S., prohibiting states from applying civil liability law to give justice to victims of their misconduct, the mayors say.

The mayors cite the example of a manufacturer who continuously sells guns to corrupt dealers with histories of violations, law enforcement interaction, and who are suspected of being major supplies of the Iron Pipeline, saying that manufacturer would be subject to civil prosecution and litigation under the law if passed.

The mayors write: “Once again, New York has the opportunity to save lives as a national leader on gun violence prevention. We, as Mayors of the undersigned cities, urge you to take swift action to pass S1048a/A6762a this session and open the door to accountability for bad actors in the gun industry.”

They say their communities – especially communities of color — are on the front lines of the gun violence epidemic, suffering the loss, both in human life and in steep financial impact.

“Our cities need this tool, and in the face of federal inaction on the issue, it is up to you, our state legislative leaders, to provide it,” they write.

“We need accountability for the wrongs that have been committed, and we need to incentivize a change in behavior to stem the flow of illegal guns. Pass this bill, help us save lives, and serve as a model for the rest of the country.”

On Wednesday, the Senate Democratic Majority advanced a package of gun violence prevention bills, which included Myrie’s bill supported by the mayors.

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said the package of legislation would hold those responsible for the marketing and distribution of firearms used in criminal activity; combat the dangers of imitation weapons; expand safety training for gun owners; enact measures to track gun violence data; and fund meaningful research on this crisis.

“We must do everything we can to eliminate the scourge of violence that has cut too many lives short and devastated too many families,” Stewart-Cousins said.

“By enacting this important legislation, we take another step closer towards further ending gun violence.”

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Anna Bradley-Smith

Anna Bradley-Smith is Brooklyn-based reporter with bylines in NBC, VICE, Slate and others. Follow her on Twitter @annabradsmith.

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