2009-10-15 / From The Mayor...

FROM THE MAYOR’S DESK ...

Stopping Illegal Guns And Increasing Midtown Security

New York is the nation’s safest big city. We’re on course for a new record low in murders this year. But does that mean we’re complacent? Not a chance! We’re continuing to work aggressively to stop any threat to New Yorkers, whether it arises around the corner, or originates in a distant part of the world.

For example, last week we revealed the disturbing results of our recent undercover investigation of patently illegal sales made at gun shows in Ohio, Nevada, and Tennessee. There were a few honorable exceptions, but the vast majority of private sellers and gun dealers we secretly videotaped flagrantly violated the already loose Federal regulations governing such shows. Undercover “customers” who openly announced that they probably couldn’t pass the background checks required to buy guns in other settings got the guns they wanted from private sellers – no questions asked. And dealers made sale after sale to so-called “straw” purchasers — stand-ins who fill out the background check paperwork for people who are clearly the real gun buyers.

Tragically, that kind of slipshod and indifferent conduct puts deadly weapons in the wrong hands. It supplies gun traffickers and violent criminals. It makes a mockery of the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. And it’s got to stop. That’s why we’ve sent our videotapes and a report of our investigation to Federal authorities and to members of Congress. It’s also why we’re not ruling out what we’ve done successfully in similar cases: Stopping those we caught redhanded by suing them.

We’re also working hard to defend our city from terrorism — a threat that recent events have showed is still very much with us. So that’s why last week we also announced plans to expand the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative that protects the area below Canal Street to also include midtown Manhattan: from 30th to 60th street, river to river.

We’re going to create a network of closed circuit-cameras and license plate readers similar to the system that now makes Lower Manhattan the world’s most secure financial district. It will feed images, in real time, to the same state-of-the-art command center staffed by the NYPD and private security experts that monitors Lower Manhattan. That will enable us to track people and automobiles entering and moving through Midtown. It will provide information that could allow us to intercept suspects and disrupt attacks in an area that includes Penn and Grand Central Stations, the Empire State and Chrysler buildings, and other highly visible buildings and institutions.

We’re paying for this enhanced and expanded security network with a combination of Homeland Security and city funds. And make no mistake about it: We’ll invest as much as it takes, in either federal or city dollars, to complete this project and protect New Yorkers. Because keeping our city safe from every threat is our Number One responsibility.

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