This morning, State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has made public a letter he sent to Manhattan DA Cy Vance and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly calling for a “gun buy-back program” on the Lower East Side. Residents have been concerned about a number of incidents in the last few years. A man was shot in the head on Pitt Street last summer. Earlier this month, Housing Bureau officers exchanged gunfire with a fleeing suspect on Columbia Street.
Here’s the text of the letter, which was sent March 7th:
I am writing to express my concern over several recent shooting incidents in my Lower East Side community. Many of my constituents, particularly tenants of New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) complexes, have raised alarms about gun violence in our neighborhoods and I believe it is time to take further action to combat this scourge. I am asking the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the New York Police Department (NYPD) to sponsor a gun buy-back program on the Lower East Side. Gun buy-backs have proven to be a very effective way to remove guns from our streets. The community room at Rutgers Houses would be a perfect location and the tenant association leadership has indicated its support. Your offices have run successful gun buy-backs in the past and this has proved to be an effective and popular method for removing guns from our communities. Far too many of my constituents live in fear of violence. We must take proactive steps to take guns out of the hands of criminals so that our streets are safer and the law-abiding members of our community feel empowered in their neighborhoods. Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. I look forward to your response.
Last summer, in the aftermath of the Pitt Street shooting, Speaker Silver’s office told us that staff had reached out to the district attorney about setting up a gun but-back program. After further conversations with constituents, he followed up with the recent letter.