NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Just days before the second anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, New Yorkers joined people in all 50 states for a national day against gun violence.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., New York State Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel, Sen. Daniel Squadron and City Councilman Jumaane Williams were among those who gathered on the steps of City Hall Thursday to call for an end to gun violence.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, Milagros Ortega was also among the New Yorkers commemorating the National Vigil for Gun Violence. She wears her heart on her coat – in the form of a picture of her son, Francisco Leao, who was shot in the back and killed on a street in Harlem.
“I’m hurt. I’m devastated. I cry a lot,” Ortega said. “I just want him back, and I know that’s not realistic.”
Ortega said she is still affected profoundly by gun violence.
“Every time I hear a shooting in the street, it sends me out there, and I just want to go out there and hug that mother,” she said.
Gun control advocates argued that while gun deaths in New York state have dropped, they have skyrocketed nationally.
In New York state, gun deaths dropped from 1,011 in 2010 to 977 in 2012. But nationally, they rose from 31,672 in 2010 to 33,862 in 2012, according to New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.
Some of the reduction is believed to be due to increased prosecution of illegal gun cases, and confiscation of guns from traffickers by the NYPD and district attorneys.
“In our office in the last four years, we’ve had 19 indictments of gun traffickers, which have collectively taken 900 guns off the streets of the city of New York and in Manhattan,” District Attorney Vance said. “And that’s 900 guns that are not going to be in the hands of someone who can point that gun and shoot it at a child, a community resident, or a police officer.”
Three days ahead of the Sandy Hook school massacre, New York state lawmakers called for the passage of a number of anti-gun bills. One would impose criminal charges on adults who leave their guns accessible to children, while another would require the microstamping of a code on all bullets so as to allow police to trace criminals by their ammunition.
“We need to redouble our efforts to keep guns out of the wrong hands. That is a goal that no one can or should disagree with,” Squadron said. “Criminals are the wrong hands. Children are the wrong hands.”
New gun legislation faces an uncertain future in Albany, where the gun lobby has a number of strong supports.
A vigil was also held Thursday at the National Cathedral in Washington to mourn and remember the 20 6- and 7-year-old children and six educators killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting.
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