FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 1, 2009
MAYOR BLOOMBERG DISCUSSES LATEST STEPS TO KEEP NEW YORK THE SAFEST BIG CITY IN THE COUNTRY IN WEEKLY RADIO ADDRESS
The following is the text of Mayor Bloomberg’s weekly radio address as prepared for delivery on 1010 WINS News Radio for Sunday, March 1, 2009
“Good Morning. This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
“There’s one group of New Yorkers who unfortunately can’t hear my message this morning: The clergymen and women who are leading Sunday services. And that’s really a shame, because I want to heartily thank clergy members in Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Manhattan who have recently helped us keep New York the nation’s safest big city by getting more than 3,500 guns off our streets and, potentially, out of the hands of criminals.
“Eight days ago, participating churches in St. Albans, Jamaica, and the Rockaways opened their doors for a gun buyback program run jointly by the NYPD and Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. Anyone bringing in a firearm got a $200 bank debit card – no identity required, and no questions asked. By the end of the day, we’d collected a total of 919 guns. They included assault weapons, sawed-off shotguns, more than 130 semi-automatic pistols, and more than 250 revolvers – weapons that are either patently illegal, or that might lead to needless bloodshed and grief in tragic household accidents or crimes, or that might even be pointed or fired at our police officers.
“While this was the biggest single-day intake of weapons in our buyback program, we’ve seen wonderful results at other buyback Saturdays at churches, too. The clergy’s partnership has been key – in fact – you might say that it has truly worked miracles. Just think about this: Starting in 2002, the NYPD began offering $100 to anyone turning in a firearm at a precinct station. The result: 5,000 guns taken off the streets in seven years. Now, by doubling the buyback reward – and far more importantly, by enlisting the help of respected community and spiritual leaders – we’ve recovered more than 3,500 weapons in just six days.
“Buybacks are just one part of our far-reaching strategy to curb gun violence. Working with our partners in Albany, we’ve also passed the toughest law in the nation against illegal possession of a loaded weapon and increased the likelihood that gun criminals will receive prison terms. And our lawsuits against a handful of irresponsible out-of-state gun dealers have helped choke off the flow of illegal weapons into our city.
“These efforts, along with our focus on stopping quality of life crimes, have been instrumental in reducing crime in our city nearly 28 percent between 2001 and 2008, and bringing it down another 14 percent so far this year compared with last. Even with all that progress, we still have much more to do, as last week’s gun violence in East New York tragically showed. And that makes continued community involvement and leadership in fighting crime all the more important. Initiatives like the gun buybacks strengthen ties between community residents and the police officers who protect them. They engage everyday New Yorkers in combating crime. And they let criminals know we’re all working together to keep violence out of our neighborhoods. To that last message, let me add a deeply felt ‘Amen.’
“This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Thanks
Stu Loeser (212) 788-2958