Security was top of mind for tri-state area parents and caregivers Wednesday as children went to school the day after the horrific mass shooting at a Texas elementary school that claimed the lives of 19 children and two educators.
New York City has been grappling with a spike in gun violence. Since the start of his administration, Mayor Eric Adams said he would combat the surge of gun violence that has plagued the city in recent months.
On Wednesday, alongside other city and school officials, Adams addressed New Yorkers to assure them that he has not lost sight of his promise to rid New York of illegal guns and said the city was doing everything possible to keep the streets safe -- while also urging parents to get involved in school safety.
During Adams' press conference, an NYPD officer held up a .380 semiautomatic handgun found in the backpack of a 13-year-old student at a middle school in Brooklyn this month as an example of the many weapons found in city schools this year.
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“We have recovered 20 guns -- 20 in schools since the start of the year," Mayor Eric Adams said in the press conference that had already planned to talk about public safety prior to the tragic Texas school shooting.
TEXAS SCHOOL SHOOTING
Overall, 5,546 dangerous instruments have been recovered at schools— that includes knives and other potentially sharp objects. This is a 124% increase over the last pre-pandemic school year.
Meanwhile, the 20 guns found this school year is a 300% increase. The mayor said one of them found only because a school employee overheard a conversation that the child said he had a weapon.
“Public safety can’t be about luck and overhearing conversations,” Adams said, adding he wants to new kind of metal detector that works without a security line -- and he wants parents to immediately check their kids’ bags.
“If you see boxes of bullets something is wrong. We have to stop living life way it ought to be and live life the way it is,” he said.
A simple change could be coming to the nation’s largest school district — no more open door policy.
“I spoke with the head of the principals union today who suggested lock our front doors. Once our students are in school, front doors should be locked," NYC Schools Chancellor David Banks said regarding some of the added security proposals the district is considering.
For her part, Gov. Kathy Hochul also said Wednesday that New York State Police will be doing daily check-ins at all schools from now until the end of the school year.
New York's governor also says she wants to raise to the age to legally purchase the type of weapons used in this month's mass shootings in Buffalo and Texas to 21 -- and she may want to change the rules around other firearms as well.
Hochul, a Democrat, is among swarms of elected leaders at all levels of government across multiple states calling for immediate and aggressive action on guns
“Am I supposed to leave the flags at half mast? They’re still at half mast from Buffalo. No. I don’t want to," she said.
In a series of tweets, Hochul goes on to say that the Interstate Gun Task Force, which was formed, has seized over 4,100 illegal firearms. She also said that more needs to be done in Washington to strengthen gun control.
Meanwhile, in New Jersey, the state's governor urged on Wednesday the passage of gun safety reform he initially proposed in 2021.
“From Uvalde to Buffalo, recent tragedies have reaffirmed that, in the absence of substantive reform, no community is immune to the epidemic of gun violence,” said Gov. Phil Murphy. “The senseless murders in Texas should fortify our resolve to take action today – to avoid similar horrors not through empty words and promises, but through concrete measures to make every classroom and neighborhood safer. Our children, as well as the teachers who devote their lives to their education and safety, deserve nothing less.”
The Garden State has already established certain measures in the past to combat the gun violence epidemic, including establishing a “red flag” law for gun violence protective orders, criminalizing firearms trafficking, strengthening background checks, reducing maximum capacity of ammunition magazines, banning“ghost guns,” establishing the Gun Violence Research Center to find solutions, and establishing a coalition of nearby states (Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania) to share crime gun data among law enforcement agencies.
Additionally, although there are no credible threats in New Jersey schools, the state's attorney general directed law enforcement to immediately increase their presence at campuses across the state.
Connecticut lawmakers, including Gov. Ned Lamont, and advocates urging Congress to pass stricter gun laws nationwide.
The mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas that killed 19 children and two educators is a tragedy Connecticut is unfortunately all too familiar with: on Dec. 14, 2012, 20 children and six educators lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The state passed a law that banned more than 100 assault weapons and required background checks for all gun and ammunition purchases in the state following that attack nearly 10 years ago.
"In the wake of the Robb Elementary School shooting in Texas, Connecticut parents should have confidence we’re doing everything we can to keep our children safe, both physically and mentally," Lamont said in a tweet.
Now, advocates and lawmakers are begging for change on a much broader scale.
Po Murray's organization, Newton Action Alliance, which was formed after her neighbor committed the mass murder at Sandy Hook is urging federal lawmakers to support hurting communities in Texas, Connecticut and across the country by taking action.
"But it's really up to all Americans. Until members of Congress fear voters, more than the gun lobby, they won't act,” Murray said.
Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz shared similar sentiments, saying in part in a tweet that the U.S. Senate needs to break away from the "grip" of the NRA.
"Don’t tell me ordinary citizens need access to an AR-15 or any other military grade weapon," her tweet reads in part. "If you use the 2nd amendment as an excuse, you are complicit in the murders of our children."