Tag Archives: east elmhurst

St. Michael’s Cemetery looking to expand


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of St. Michael’s Cemetery

St. Michael’s Cemetery in East Elmhurst is looking to expand in order to continue serving the community — both in this life and after.

In order to make sure St. Michael’s, located at 72-02 Astoria Boulevard, does not run out of space and continues to serve the community, the cemetery is in talks to purchase a city park space located by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) and 30th Avenue.

According to Ed Horn, a St. Michael’s official, the park property has been abandoned for years and there is no access to the space except through the cemetery.

“It’s not a park, it has never been a park,” said Horn. “The cemetery is a vital resource for the community. There is a great civil and social purpose for acquiring this land.”

In order for St. Michael’s to purchase the land, it must work with the Parks Department to identify replacement parkland.

“The land is not a park, it’s completely in despair,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris, who is sponsoring the bill in the Senate for the cemetery to obtain the land. “It’s not functional at the moment. This presents an opportunity for a win-win. A small business gets to utilize a place in despair and we get a park space in return.”

The narrow park strip which the cemetery is looking to acquire was designated to serve as a landscaped buffer along the western side of the BQE, according to a Parks spokesperson.

They added the city is still in discussions with St. Michael’s Cemetery and the Department of Citywide Administrative Services about obtaining the site and about finding the best replacement.

“Right now, the cost of a local funeral is very high, mostly due to a shortage of cemetery space in our community,” said Assemblymember Aravella Simotas. “Permitting an abandoned and generally inaccessible parcel of parkland to be used by St. Michael’s Cemetery would stabilize plot costs and prevent our loved ones from being priced out of a burial in their own community.”

 

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Cops searching for suspects in East Elmhurst kidnapping


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Sketch courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for a group of men who allegedly abducted and beat a woman after they struck her with their vehicle as she was riding her bicycle.

The 52-year-old victim was traveling down 30th Avenue near 74th Street at 11:25 a.m. on Saturday, July 20 when the suspects’ van hit her and knocked her off her bike, said cops.

The suspects then grabbed the woman and forced her into the vehicle. Once inside, they blindfolded the victim, tied her up and began to beat her, repeatedly asking her “where is the money,” according to police. The beating and questioning continued until they threw her out of the van near 98th Street and Northern Boulevard about 15 minutes later.

There were four to five male Hispanic suspects in the van, a light green 2002-2004 Honda Odyssey, said authorities.

Police have released a sketch of one of the suspects and describe him as 35 years old, dark-skinned, five feet 10 inches tall and 280 pounds.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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East Elmhurst boy runs five-mile race to raise money for autism program


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Larry Sillen

Max Moore has crossed the finish line to make a difference.

The nine-year-old from East Elmhurst put on his running shoes to run in the June 30 Achilles International Hope and Possibility Five Mile Race in Central Park for the second time. This year, the youth raised $1,279 in funds online, surpassing his goal of $1,000. He ran to increase awareness for the Art Access Autism Initiatives at the Queens Museum.

“We are extremely proud of him and thrilled we can help to support such an amazing program,” said father John Moore.

Max, who is autistic himself, has been involved in the Art Access Autism Initiatives for over a year. According to his parents, the program has served as both a great social and artistic experience, allowing Max to get creative along with his family and other participants at the museum.

“The gifted people that work with the kids are always so engaged, talented and truly [invested] in the kids in the program,” said Moore.

This year Max beat his best time and finished the race in one hour and one minute. He ran alongside his dad and Marissa Fong, a guide provided by Achilles Kids, a non-profit organization that provides training and racing opportunities for children with disabilities. Max has participated in Achilles Kids’ running program for over two years.

“They all really take the time to get to know the boys and girls that are involved,” said Moore. “They knew to pair someone quick and fit with Max because they really know Max – what motivates him, what excites him, what engages him, his challenges and his triumphs.”

His dad and mom, Jacqueline, said they do not know for sure whether Max will continue participating in the race, but added they certainly hope he will. They said he takes a great deal of pride and joy in his running experience, and gets excited days ahead of his weekend runs with Achilles.

“The infectious nature of his enthusiasm affects the whole family, and we can’t say enough about how constructive and positive an experience [it] has been for all of us,” said Moore.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday: Clear in the morning, then partly cloudy. High of 81. Winds from the West at 5 to 15 mph shifting to the South in the afternoon. Thursday night: Partly cloudy in the evening, then clear. Low of 63. Winds from the SSW at 5 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY:  Live in the Sky Concert Series

Come to the Z Hotel in Long Island City on Thursday nights for its Live in the Sky Concert Series featuring live performances, drink specials and a hand rolled cigar bar. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

UFT endorses Thompson for NYC mayor

New York City’s massive teachers’ union is backing former City Comptroller Bill Thompson for mayor. Read more: AP

James Gandolfini, star of ‘The Sopranos,’ dies at 51

James Gandolfini’s lumbering, brutish mob boss with the tortured psyche will endure as one of TV’s indelible characters. Read more: AP

East Elmhurst rezoning would keep neighborhood feel: city

More than 125 blocks of East Elmhurst will be rezoned to both protect the residential character of the neighborhood, but also bolster Astoria Blvd. as the area’s shopping strip, said city officials, who will present the plan Thursday. Read more: New York Daily News

Amtrak: Track problem to blame for LIRR derailment

A track issue was likely to blame for a derailment on the Long Island Rail Road that left hundreds of commuters stranded this week, Amtrak announced Wednesday. Read more: CBS New York

New York City police unions livid over bill on racial profiling

New York City police unions are lining up to blast a bill they say would handcuff them from doing their job. Read more: CBS New York

New U.S. climate strategy coming within weeks: Obama adviser

President Barack Obama will target carbon emissions from power plants as part of a second-term climate change agenda expected to be rolled out in the next few weeks, his top energy and climate adviser said on Wednesday. Read more: Reuters

Burglar wanted in 13 apartment building thefts


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for a man who stole cash from the basement change machines of 13 different Queens apartment buildings.

The burglaries occurred between April 18 and May 20 in the Forest Hills, Rego Park, Woodside and East Elmhurst sections of the borough, said officials.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto Crime Stoppers website by texting their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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Three charged with kidnapping, holding Queens man for month in $3M ransom attempt


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

BY CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND ANGY ALTAMIRANO

Three men have been arrested for kidnapping a man off a Jackson Heights street in broad daylight and holding him in a warehouse for a month in a $3 million ransom attempt, the district attorney’s office said Wednesday.

Christian Acuna, 35, of Corona, Dennis Alves, 32, of East Elmhurst, and Eduardo Moncayo, 38, of Lyndhurst, New Jersey, are currently awaiting arraignment on kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment charges. If convicted, each of the men could face up to 25 years to life in prison.

According to the charges, on April 18, Moncayo approached the victim, 52-year-old Pedro Portugal, on Roosevelt Avenue and showed him what appeared to be an NYPD badge.

Moncayo and an unapprehended man then allegedly grabbed Portugal and forced him into a vehicle.

He was driven to a Long Island City warehouse where he was bound, beaten and burnt with acid by a group of unknown men over a 32-day period.

The men told Portugal that they knew he had property in the United States, and he was ordered to call his mother and brother in Ecuador and ask for $3 million in ransom.

Portugal’s ordeal came to an end May 20 when police rescued him from inside the warehouse.

“Nobody said anything,” said Flavio Camposano, worker at Sign Zone, one of the businesses working out of the warehouse on 43rd Avenue, where Portugal was allegedly held captive. “Everything was regular.”

According to Camposano, a man shouted asking for help through an open window on the third floor of the warehouse on Monday and then at around 3 p.m. police swarmed the area.

Local business owners at 88-06 Roosevelt Avenue said Portugal worked as an accountant on the second floor of the building.

“I was surprised to hear what happened because it was in the middle of the day,” said a worker at Cholula Bakery who wished to remain anonymous and who saw Portugal get his breakfast at the shop every day. “There were so many people on the street. It’s so great he was found.”

Sergio Ruiz, owner of a deli at 88-04 Roosevelt Avenue, has known Portugal for the past 13 years and said the surveillance camera from his store shows Portugal leaving the building calmly the day of the kidnapping. Ruiz believes that if he was approached by men identifying themselves as cops he would have been in the same situation.

“At the moment someone just reacts and just does it,” said Ruiz.

Pedro Portugal, a 52-year-old man from Woodside, was allegedly kidnapped outside this Jackson Heights location on April 18 and held for ransom for 32 days.

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East Elmhurst gets slow zone


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Johann Hamilton

East Elmhurst residents are able to cross a little easier.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm and Department of Transportation (DOT) Queens Borough Deputy Commissioner Dalila Hall announced the East Elmhurst Slow Zone as part of the DOT’s Neighborhood Slow Zone initiative last week.

The DOT’s initiative is a community-based program that reduces the speed limit to 20 mph in order to increase pedestrian safety. The new slow zone — the sixth to be implemented in New York City and the second in the borough — will also look to lower the amount of traffic going through the neighborhood.

Dromm proposed the East Elmhurst Slow Zone to DOT last year in response to concerns he heard from the community.

“I am very pleased we were able to collaborate with the Department of Transportation to increase the safety of pedestrians in East Elmhurst,” he said. “These measures will make it safer for everybody, but especially for seniors and children, to walk through the neighborhood.”

The slow zone covers the area from Astoria Boulevard to 31st Avenue and from the Brooklyn Queens Expressway to 82nd Street.

“Local neighborhoods streets are not highways, they are not short cuts — they are where we live,” said Hall. “Our residential streets need to be designed for this human scale, and by simply reducing the speed of passing cars by 10 miles per hour, we can save lives as we make the streets where people live more inviting and safer.”

The slow zone will also include important traffic calming features such as narrowing streets by instituting parking lanes and creating a painted median in the middle of 30th Avenue. DOT has also constructed speed bumps in the area, posted more signs with the new 20 mph speed limit and pushed street parking away from intersections in order to create a larger field of vision for motorists.

“It’s worth it because more precautions mean more lives saved,” said East Elmhurst resident Michelle Gomez, 39. “Although it might not be followed at first, it can always be enforced by the police.”

Later this month, Dromm will propose the creation of the Jackson Heights Slow Zone, projected to stretch from 69th Street to 87th Street between Roosevelt Avenue and Northern Boulevard.

With additional reporting by Johann Hamilton

 

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Four wanted in East Elmhurst knife attack


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for four men who stabbed a 19-year-old as he was standing on an East Elmhurst street last week.

According to police, the suspects approached the victim at the corner of 31st Avenue and 91st Street around 3:50 p.m. on Monday, May 6, stabbed him, then fled the scene.

The victim was taken to Elmhurst Hospital where he was treated for stab wounds to his torso.

Authorities describe the suspects as three black males and one Hispanic male.

Anyone with information in regards to this assault is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS.The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or texting their tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

 

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Remains found inside East Elmhurst garbage bag


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Graphic image

A woman made a shocking discovering last night when she found unidentified remains in a discarded garbage bag next to an East Elmhurst home.

According to police, the woman stumbled upon the remains around 7:15 p.m. near 99th Street and 31st Avenue. She kicked the bag to see what was inside and a glass jar rolled out containing them.

The medical examiner’s office is still investigating the discovery, but the Daily News is reporting that they may be a human fetus. The publication also said a human skull and a couple of dollar bills were found in the garbage bag.

 

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Push for slow zones in Jackson Heights


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo By Angy Altamirano

In December, 11-year-old Miguel Torres was struck and killed as he tried to cross the street on Northern Boulevard.

Now, leaders in Jackson Heights are calling for a slow zone to prevent more deaths.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm is leading the push that would lower the speed limit in the neighborhood from 30 miles per hour to 20 miles per hour on specific streets to stop drivers who speed through.

Last year, the councilmember applied to have a slow zone between 74th Street and 86th Street, from 37th Avenue up to Northern Boulevard. The application was denied by the Department of Transportation (DOT), as Northern Boulevard cannot be part of the slow zone because it is considered a major arterial traffic way, said Dromm.

But now Dromm hopes to reapply and focus on the side streets that meet Northern Boulevard.

“There is a very big problem in Jackson Heights on those side streets,” said Dromm. “We have to change the mentality of drivers that when they are coming into such a congested area, you aren’t going to get in and out fast. You need to slow down, calm down and take it easy.”

About two weeks ago, on the corner of 81st Street and 35th Avenue, a pedestrian was struck in a hit-and-run accident when a car was making a left turn. Another pedestrian was hit on 82nd Street and Northern Boulevard and is in critical condition.

Edwin Westley, president of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, said he is working with Dromm to bring the slow zone to the neighborhood.

“We need it for two reasons, one is the number of senior citizens in the neighborhood and the other reason is there are a large number of schools in the area,” Westley said.

A slow zone in East Elmhurst, on 25th Avenue from 69th to 83rd Street, was approved by the DOT and is nearly completed.

“Northern Boulevard needs to be a safe environment considering just how many schools sit right along it throughout Jackson Heights and into Corona,” said Serhan Ayhan, 26, a Jackson Heights resident. “We shouldn’t be playing a game of chicken waiting until a student is hurt while crossing the street to implement safer policies.”

Along with the slow zones, Dromm also hopes to implement other traffic measures including bike racks and extended curbs to get drivers to slow down. He is also working with the NYPD for additional enforcement on the north and south ends of Northern Boulevard to decrease fatalities and hit-and-runs.

The DOT did not respond as of press time.

 

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Op-Ed: A new alliance for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY COUNCILMEMBER JULISSA FERRERAS

With public review of the National Tennis Center’s proposed expansion in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park (FMCP) well under way, it is time to set our sights on the future of what is the largest and most important open space for the residents of Queens.

Having spent my whole life in and around FMCP, I can attest to the fact that it has not received the attention and resources a park of its size and high utilization deserves.

Although I am sensitive to the budgetary and staffing constraints the Parks Department faces, it must be pointed out that unlike most communities in the city, we in Queens have private entities that greatly benefit from our public space.

After engaging in numerous conversations with the park’s stakeholders, I have come to the conclusion that we must establish a new nonprofit alliance dedicated to FMCP.  I see this as the best way to ensure the community has the quality park it deserves for future generations to enjoy.

Despite hosting upwards of 20,000 people from organized soccer leagues every week, our beloved park only has a quarter of the staff of Prospect Park, though it is more than double in size.

Additionally, Central Park, which is smaller than FMCP, has nearly eight times as many workers.

Our parkland is precious. FMCP is the Central Park of Queens.  It is the heart and lungs of our community.

If a public-private partnership akin to the Prospect Park Alliance and the Central Park Conservancy were to be created, FMCP would be better positioned to attract new revenue streams and incorporate direct community input.

The FMCP alliance board, which will be comprised of a healthy mix of local residents and representatives from the corporations inhabiting the park, will be able to work with the Parks Department in determining how private funds would be best spent for the benefit of the community.

In the immediate term, the alliance would provide a vehicle to which corporate entities operating in and benefiting from the park, such as the USTA and the Mets, could commit financial support for the ongoing care of the park, augmenting the Parks Department’s budget.

My vision for the alliance is to allow its members to represent the voice of our community and be a part of the park’s governance. I look forward to achieving a healthy collaborative effort wherein the alliance can receive funds from private sources to increase FMCP’s dedicated staff and resources it so desperately needs.

Every stakeholder I have spoken to – from the organizations who want to build in the park and local business owners to the soccer leagues and park advocacy groups – agrees that FMCP needs a new alliance, and it needs it now.

As this community is being asked to consider three major development projects in and next to FMCP, we ask the Parks Department and the City to look at these three projects holistically, consider their cumulative impact on the park, and commit to creating an alliance that will help protect this irreplaceable park.

Councilmember Julissa Ferreras represents the 21st Council District encompassing Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Corona and Jackson Heights. She is the chair of the Women’s Issues Committee and is a member of the Committees on Parks and Recreation, Civil Rights, Consumer Affairs, Economic Development, Finance and Health.

 

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NYPD releases stop-and-frisk stats


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

File photo

For the first time, the NYPD has released 2011 data regarding the controversial procedure of stop-and-frisk.

Among those stopped-and-frisked in 2011, 87 percent were either black or Hispanic, according to the report. Of the 685,724 stops made citywide, 53 percent were black while 34 percent were Hispanic. Only 9 percent of those stopped-and-frisked were white, while 4 percent were Asian.

The most common crime suspected was weapons possession, which accounted for 26 percent of all stops.

According to the report, Brooklyn’s 75th Precinct, comprising East New York and Cypress Hills, had the highest number of stops in the city, with more than 31,000, of which 97 percent of which were either black or Hispanic. The 73rd Precinct in Brooklyn, covering Brownsville, was the next highest with 25,167 stops, 98 percent of which involved minorities.

Queens’ 115th Precinct of East Elmhurst, Corona and Jackson Heights ranked third with 18,156 stops. Nearly 93 percent of those stopped were minorities.

The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), which fought to have stop-and-frisk statistics released last year, claims the system is a form of racial profiling, adding that the practice has not reduced the number of people who fall victim to shootings. In 2002, there were 1,892 victims of gunfire and 97,296 stops. In 2011, there were 1,821 victims of gunfire but a record 685,724 stops.

 

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4-alarm blaze engulfs East Elmhurst storefronts


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

When the Rev. Alfonso Wyatt heard there was a fire on the same block as his parents’ church, he thought about the portrait of his father hanging on the wall, and whether or not it had survived.

On Sunday night, January 27, a fire raged through several buildings on Northern Boulevard in East Elmhurst, including Friendship Church of Christ, founded by William and Mae Wyatt. While their church suffered only smoke and water damage, the nearby Church of God in Christ and several businesses including Lospinos Lounge and Sign Plaza of NY Inc. were destroyed.

“We’re thankful it was saved,” said Wyatt. “It will be a build back but we’re thankful. We will rebuild. We’ll continue to be a light in this community.”

According to the FDNY, the blaze began around 10 p.m. at 104-15 Northern Boulevard. Several units were dispatched to the four-alarm fire, which took nearly two hours to control. The buildings contained both stores and residences, officials said. No rescues were reported.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Wyatt, who said he was still in shock, said his thoughts were with the nearby church that wasn’t as lucky.

“Our hearts go out to our sister church,” he said. “They were burned to the ground.”

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

 TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Overcast with snow, then ice pellets and snow in the afternoon. High of 37 with a windchill as low as 25F. Winds from the SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation 80% . Monday night: Overcast with rain, then a chance of rain after midnight. Low of 37. Winds from the SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Repetition in Design

Repetition in Design, on display at the Queens Botanical Garden, is a series of oil paintings on canvas by QBG’s Supervising Museum Instructor Gennadyi Gurman. Some of these pieces are influenced by the way the 8-bit video games from the 1980s looked, also from cartoons; but all show a bright color contrast. Until April 15 and free with admission. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Four-alarm fire guts commercial building in Queens

Business owners in Queens are assessing the damage after a fast-moving four-alarm fire ripped through a commercial building late Sunday. Read more: ABC New York

NYC school bus companies, union to meet Monday

New York City school bus companies and union leaders are to meet Monday in an effort to resolve the strike. Read more: Fox New York

City plans to put new schools in two struggling Queens high schools

Two struggling Queens high schools could soon become a lot more crowded. Read more: New York Daily News

MoMA PS1 wants to build performance dome in the Rockaways

Plans are in the works to bring a unique performance dome to the Rockaways. Read more: NY1

Schumer: Federal Sandy aid bill funds Army Corps’ projects on city coastlines

The U.S. Senate is set to vote on a Hurricane Sandy aid bill on Monday evening, and Sen. Charles Schumer said Sunday the bill would provide more than $1 billion to protect the coastlines of the city and Long Island. Read more: NY1

Police chiefs from Newtown, Aurora to meet with Obama

President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will meet today with law enforcement groups and police chiefs from several communities impacted by mass shootings to discuss the administration’s intensifying push to reduce gun violence. Read more: CBS News

Bipartisan Senate group proposes immigration plan

A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators has agreed on a framework for immigration reform that would provide a “path to citizenship” for those in the United States illegally but only after measures are put in place to secure borders and track undocumented immigrants. Read more: Reuters

Op-Ed: Essential steps in the fight against gun violence


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Peralta new

BY STATE SENATOR JOSE PERALTA

As the sponsor of 14 gun bills, I couldn’t be happier to see long overdue action fi nally taken on common-sense measures to protect New Yorkers from gun violence.

From revoking the gun permits and confi scating the fi rearms of domestic abusers and the mentally ill, to requiring background checks and law enforcement oversight for private gun sales and ammunition purchases, to requiring periodic statewide recertifi cation of gun licenses, a good deal of the legislation I have sponsored and fought for is in this package.

After what we saw happen in Newtown, Connecticut, and in Rochester, strengthening New York’s assault weapons ban became an urgent and pressing priority. And we are adopting perhaps the toughest assault weapons ban in the country.

I applaud the governor for his perseverance and commitment. Above all, I want to thank him for his leadership. Making it harder for criminals to get guns, and keeping fi rearms out of the hands of the mentally ill, are essential steps in the fight against gun violence.

We also need to make it easier for law enforcement to put gun criminals in jail by making use of available technology.

That’s why we need to require microstamping, a simple, inexpensive technology that stamps a code—invisible to the naked eye—on the shell casings ejected when a gun is fired.

The microstamps on recovered shell casings give law enforcement the ability to identify a gun used in a crime and determine where and when it was purchased and who bought it.

Not surprisingly, my bill requiring that handguns made or sold in New York be equipped with microstamping technology has the support of police and prosecutors throughout the state.

And there’s absolutely no logical, coherent reason for not requiring microstamping in New York—or at least not one that has been articulated yet.

We’re told that requiring microstamping would put our state’s gun manufacturers out of business. Yet one of the reasons we needed to toughen New York’s assault weapons ban is because many high-powered rifl es now in production are exempt from the current ban.

Why? Because manufacturers altered their products to circumvent the law.

So ignoring the law is profi table, but complying with a microstamping requirement would be bad for business?

That’s a business model that has no business in New York.

In addition to making it harder for criminals to get guns, we need to make it easier for law enforcement to put gun criminals in jail. Longer jail sentences won’t make a difference if we’re not catching the people who need to be locked up.

And please: Let’s not waste any more time on the nonsense that a microscopic code on a shell casing constitutes an assault on the Second Amendment rights of sportsmen and law-abiding gun owners.

New Yorkers deserve better than that. Especially those waiting on justice for a loved one lost to gun violence.

Senator Jose Peralta serves on the Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee. He represents the communities of Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Corona, Jackson Heights and Astoria.

 

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