BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia renewed his call for “sensible gun reform” targeting assault weapons Monday after the Buffalo mass shooting suspect pleaded guilty to murdering 10 Black people at a Tops supermarket in May.
“Assault weapons are nothing but a bane in our existence,” Gramaglia said. “They are for one purpose and one purpose only. We have seen what they can do, we have seen what they’ve done. It’s time to get some sensible change.”
The Buffalo mass shooter poked fun at New York’s gun laws in his rambling diatribe, saying they failed to stop him from buying or modifying guns, including the AR-15 assault rifle used in the attack. He wrote that he selected his AR-15 specifically because of how deadly it can be.
New York toughened its gun laws in the aftermath of the mass shooting, barring anyone under 21 from buying a semiautomatic rifle and revising the state’s red-flag law, among other changes. However, officials have lamented that the lack of national policies undermines states’ efforts if their laws can be skirted by simply traveling across state lines.
Gramaglia has urged for tougher federal gun laws before. “Congress must act immediately,” he told the House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Reform in June.
“Assault weapons like the AR-15 are known for three things,” Gramaglia added. “How many rounds they fire, the speed at which they fire those rounds, and body count.”
His comments echoed those from New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, who said in the days after the mass shooting that the tragedy “calls for a national response.”
“Yes, it’s a challenging time politically,” Hochul said, “but that doesn’t mean we should stand down and let the criminals win.”
President Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act into law in early July following the tragedies in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas, marking the country’s most substantial gun legislation in decades – even if it fell short of tougher measures that passed the House version of the bill.
The House also passed an assault weapons ban later in July, though the New York Times wrote the bill is “doomed in Senate,” where it will fail to gain enough Republican support. Similarly, the House of Representatives passed a domestic terrorism bill in May following the Buffalo mass shooting, but it was blocked in Senate.
Rep. Chris Jacobs of Western New York was one of two Republicans in the House to vote in favor of the assault weapons ban. When he publicized his position in May, two weeks after the mass shooting, he was condemned by party so forcefully that he withdrew from running for re-election. The state Conservative Party chairman called Jacobs’ position on guns “unsatisfactory.”
Monday in Buffalo, attorneys for families of the mass shooting victims pledged to continue fighting for change.
“People want to use that word ‘control.’ This isn’t about about control. We are going to work tirelessly to de-politicize what we are going to do,” said attorney Ken Abbarno.
“The corporations know what they’re doing. The corporations know how they could stop the radicalization of impressionable people. They know how they can prevent these types of guns from getting into the marketplace and becoming killing machines. Those are our goals and our missions for these families, and for every other family we pray will never have to go through this again. So this is a long road, it is a long journey. But we are in this, most definitely, for the long haul. And we will not stop until we get full justice.”
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Nick Veronica is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a Digital Executive Producer in 2021. He previously worked at NBC Sports and The Buffalo News. You can follow Nick on Facebook and Twitter and find more of his work here.