Gun Procurement Coalition Expands In New York

Attorney General Spitzer said today that the New York State Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials (NYCOM) and more than a dozen top local officials have joined the Attorney General’s national coalition to use market pressure on gun manufacturers who fail to adopt a new safety code.

The effort is the next step in the fight to reduce gun violence and improve public safety across the state and nation.

"Our goal is simple," Spitzer said. "We want every appropriate government entity to agree to purchase firearms only from companies that have signed a comprehensive code of conduct."

NYCOM Executive Director Edward Farrell said: "The Cities and villages which make up the Conference of Mayors have the largest number of police departments in the state, nearly 400. Our economic potential as consumers cannot be taken lightly by the gun manufacturers. We are pleased to join the coalition and we commend Attorney General Spitzer for developing this initiative."

Spitzer developed the idea for the coalition and began organizing last week. He noted that government agencies -- such as police forces and departments of correction and public safety -- purchase 25 percent of all guns sold by manufacturers.

Comptroller H. Carl McCall endorsed the concept, saying: "State and municipal governments should use their collective buying power to encourage gun manufacturers to take more responsibility for their products. I will urge State agencies and municipalities across New York to do the right thing and help protect our fellow New Yorkers.

"I have found that economic pressure, when appropriately used, is persuasive to generate necessary changes. I applaud Attorney General Spitzer and the local government officials for stepping up and trying to convince gun manufacturers to be more responsible by making their products safer," McCall said.

The following municipal officials joined the coalition today: Albany County Executive Michael Breslin; Hornell Mayor Shawn Hogan; Town of Greenberg Supervisor Paul Feiner; Middletown Mayor Joseph DeStefano; New Paltz Mayor Tom Nyquist; Troy Mayor Mark Pattison and Schenectady County Sheriff Harry C. Buffardi.

The mayors of Buffalo, Rochester and Albany, the County Executive of Westchester and the Suffolk County Sheriff have already agreed to participate. In addition, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell, Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penales, Los Angles City Attorney James Hahn and San Francisco City Attorney Louise H. Renne have endorsed the idea.

Middletown Mayor DeStefano said: "The proposal by the Attorney General is one that is not only reasonable, but long overdue. As Mayor, I am proud to join the coalition of governments that will award firearm contracts only to those entities willing to abide by the principles set forth by the code of conduct."

Troy Mayor Pattison said: "I am delighted to join Attorney General Spitzer in his coalition to make New Yorkers safer by using our municipal purchasing power to influence the gun industry. Our Police Department uses Smith & Wesson firearms now and we will take steps to ensure that we only purchase from manufacturers that adopt the Attorney General’s Code of Conduct. I commend Smith & Wesson for taking the initiative to be the leader in adopting this code."

Schenectady Sheriff Buffardi said: "I commend the Attorney General’s plan to influence the gun industry to impose safety codes. This issue has been a public safety imperative that has plagued communities through the United States. I commend Attorney General Spitzer on his common sense approach to reduce gun violence and gun accidents."

The coalition concept was also praised by a leading gun control advocate: Joshua Horwitz, Executive Director of the Washington-based Educational Fund to End Handgun Violence said, " The gun industry is finally beginning to acknowledge the role it can play in reducing firearm death and injury by altering its manufacturing and distribution practices. If state, federal and local governments can unite around the gun procurement program to ensure that the gun industry acts responsibly, then all of America will benefit. We applaud Attorney General Spitzer for his creativity and leadership on this issue."

Spitzer took the lead last year in organizing municipalities across the nation that had either sued the gun companies or threatened lawsuits. He began negotiations with gun industry representatives on the development of a voluntary code of conduct that would change the way firearms are designed, marketed and distributed. The White House later joined the discussions, which culminated last week in the announcement of an agreement with the nation’s largest gun maker, Smith & Wesson. The foundation of that agreement is a code of conduct originally developed by Spitzer last year.