MIDWOOD, Brooklyn (PIX11) — Passing a national assault weapons ban is what 60 mayors nationwide, led by New York City Mayor Eric Adams, have as a top priority, they said in a letter released on Thursday.
Mayor Adams also convened the mayors in a virtual news conference on Thursday to talk about the letter they all signed to House Speaker Mike Johnson calling for a vote on a ban. Mayor Adams also said that a rise in hate crimes in New York is part of the reason he’s pushing for this legislation.
There is no known threat of an armed bias crime attack in the city, but the mayor said that every effort to control weapons can help ensure that none happens.
In Central Brooklyn on Thursday, one group that responds to crimes said that it’s seeing a more intense environment when it comes to hate crimes.
“We’re getting tremendous calls on that,” said Toby Shacalo, a patrol coordinator for the Flatbush Shomrim Safety Patrol. “Suspicious people, suspicious packages, hate crime related, and we’re just there, to protect the community.”
He said that Shomrim’s round-the-clock volunteer patrols have been able to keep a tight lid on things in Flatbush, Marine Park, and Midwood, the Central Brooklyn neighborhoods they patrol.
Part of keeping threats minimized in an increasingly tense environment, said Mayor Adams, was the effort he was leading with his fellow mayors.
In his own city, said Mayor Adams, “We’re seeing an increase in hate crimes.”
Even without a known armed threat, the mayor said, proactive measures have to be taken to help to ensure that one doesn’t happen.
“When you allow someone with mental health, mental illness to have access to these assault rifles,” Adams said at a virtual news conference, “it can create a great deal of danger.”
The group of mayors called on Speaker Johnson to put an assault weapons ban to a vote, now that he’s installed as speaker, following a three-week period of Congress not having one. A ban passed in the previous Congress by a vote of 217- 213.
They mayors said that they’re convinced a new one would pass with more support in both the House and the Senate and become the law of the land.
Meanwhile, the mayor said, he’s “extremely concerned” over hate crime statistics that tell a picture of an intensifying situation.
Hate crimes overall, according to the NYPD, rose to 101 in October of this year, up from 45 for the same month last year — a 124 percent increase.
Leading those numbers were anti-Jewish incidents. There were 69 last month, up from 22 in October 2022. That’s a 214 percent jump.
On the street, that translates into entities like the Flatbush Shomrim Safety Patrol being very busy for their entire shifts. Their heightened activity continues to work, according to the Thursday afternoon patrol coordinator.
“We’re exhausted,” Toby Shacalo said, “But guess what? We have to be there for the community. We’re here to protect and to serve.”