Jeffries, Clarke call on Obama to provide anti-gun funds
In the wake of an outbreak of gun violence in Brooklyn, including the shooting of Carey Gabay, a counsel to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, two members of the House’s Brooklyn delegation are calling on President Barack Obama to take swift action.
U.S. Representatives Hakeem Jeffries and Yvette Clarke announced on the steps of City Hall on Monday that they had written a letter to the president urging him to increase funding for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the federal agency charged with enforcing the nation’s gun laws. The ATF is also the agency responsible for illegal gun trafficking into states like New York.
On Sept. 11, Jeffries and Clarke wrote to Obama with a request that he help secure an additional $60 million above and beyond what is allocated in the House for the ATF. The amount is necessary in order to fully fund the agency as it seeks address the gun violence in America, according to the two Brooklyn lawmakers.
The new fiscal year begins on Oct. 1. There is talk in Washington D.C. about a possible shutdown of the federal government over budget items like Planned Parenthood. Jeffries and Clarke said Obama should draw a line in the sand and press Congress to fully fund the ATF.
“House Republicans want a fake fight over defunding Planned Parenthood. We’re going to give them a real fight with respect to fully funding our nation’s gun violence prevention efforts,” Jeffries (D-Brooklyn-Queens) said in a statement.
He and Clarke charged that Congress has habitually shortchanged the ATF over the years. “For years, Congress has failed to adequately fund the ATF. It is time for that to change. We enlisting the support of President Obama in this effort and we will not rest until the ATF has what it needs to combat illegal gun trafficking,” Jeffries stated.
“We cannot allow the public health crisis of gun violence to continue,” Clarke (D-Central Brooklyn) said in a statement. “Every year, the United States has more than 30,000 preventable deaths as a result of guns, deaths that real limits on the trafficking of illegal guns would substantially reduce.”
America has 5 percent of the world’s population, but has an astonishing 50 percent of the world’s guns, according to Jeffries and Clarke, who estimated that there are currently more than 285 million guns in the U.S.
In their letter to the president, Jeffries and Clarke accused Congress of “turning a blind eye” to the problem of gun violence.
“Our country cannot continue down the path of careening from one tragic incident of gun violence to another, while Congress turns a blind eye to the problem. It is time we draw a line in the sand. We can begin by demanding that Congress fully fund the ATF,” they wrote.
Gabay, first deputy counsel for the Empire State Development Corporation, was shot in the head and critically injured on a Brooklyn street during a party prior to the annual West Indian Day Parade on Sept. 7. Police have stated that they believe Gabay was caught in the crossfire during a dispute between two rival gangs.
Jeffries and Clarke said they will also press to bring Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative to Brooklyn as part of an ongoing effort to provide young people with a positive alternative to street violence.