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NEW YORK — Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said Monday that she will reintroduce legislation to tag gun trafficking as a federal crime, joining Eric Adams, the firearm-focused Democratic nominee for New York City mayor, to press her plan in Brooklyn.
The meeting between the Democratic senator and the Brooklyn borough president marked yet another chapter in Gillibrand’s decadelong push to create such a federal crime, and the latest conference on guns for Adams since he won the city’s pivotal Democratic mayoral primary.
Gillibrand and Adams strode down the north steps at Brooklyn borough hall and addressed reporters after what their offices described as a brief meeting inside.
A measure to create a federal gun trafficking crime failed to make it through the Senate in 2013, on the heels of the devastating shooting that killed 20 schoolchildren in Newtown, Connecticut. Still, Gillibrand said she was “very hopeful” the legislation will pass this time around.
“Guns travel up the iron pipeline along I-95 from states like Florida or Georgia or Pennsylvania where gun laws are far less strict,” Gillibrand said in the news conference. “The percentage of illegally trafficked guns in New York State has continued to grow in recent years, but I refuse to believe that we can’t stop these illegal guns from coming into our state.”
She plans to reintroduce the legislation this week, according to her office. Adams praised Gillibrand for her dogged decadelong effort on the bill.
“This legislation is so important,” Adams said. “Now is time to get it done.”
Gun violence has surged dramatically in American cities during the COVID-19 pandemic. And sensational shootings at locations like Times Square and, over the weekend, Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., have further driven concerns.
In New York City, the tally of shootings recorded this year has spiked by about 29% from the same period last year, according to police department data.
During the Democratic primary, Adams focused relentlessly on the surge in shootings. And after his narrow victory, the former NYPD captain has been received as an authority on gun violence.
He discussed the topic with President Joe Biden at the White House last Monday and with Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a Brooklyn church two days later.
Though Adams still must survive a November general election to reach Gracie Mansion, his tilt with the Republican mayoral nominee, Curtis Sliwa, is widely viewed as a formality in deep-blue New York City.
Sliwa, who founded the Guardian Angels patrol group, has complained about the mayor-in-waiting treatment that Adams has received from national leaders and the news media.
He sat, legs crossed, at a nearby park bench as Adams spoke with Gillibrand. And after their half-hour news conference, he presided over a dueling press gaggle.
“There’s an election that’s taking place,” Sliwa told reporters. “I would welcome Eric Adams to come out of Borough Hall and start getting back into the streets. He certainly was when he was a police officer, but I don’t get that sense now — he’s in the suites.”
Adams shrugged off Sliwa’s presence and kept his focus on the barrage of bullets. He praised Gillibrand’s legislation and continued his calls for local prescriptions: A new plainclothes police unit, improved efficiency in courts and pathways to employment to reduce the grip gangs hold on some New Yorkers.
“Congratulations,” Gillibrand told Adams as they parted following the news conference. “I’m so happy for you, and I hope we get this done.”