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OPINION: Gun-Violence Emergency Declaration is an Executive Diversion from Bad Policy

By Will Barclay


Gov. Andrew Cuomo [recently] issued an executive order declaring gun violence a “disaster emergency,” representing a “first-in-the-nation” strategy to combat crime. This is a forced, contrived approach to solving a problem that was largely created by the governor and his political allies. Gun violence is a devastating problem that has spiked recently due to policies that have pandered to criminals, inhibited law enforcement, and ignored the rights of innocent victims and their families.

The governor has tried to compare the public-health disaster [of COVID that] we are still overcoming to an issue that has nothing to do with virology or inoculation but has everything to do with the state’s near-elimination of bail and massive parole expansion. The governor’s announcement ignores the fact that crime rates have drastically spiked across the state in almost direct correlation with the passage of pro-criminal policies that allow violent criminals to come and go from community to community virtually unchecked.

Prior to this disaster declaration, Gov. Cuomo said he would work with anyone who could present a viable solution to the state’s surge in violent crime. Yet, instead of working with anyone at all, he issued another unilateral order and circumvented the state legislature. This type of governance has, sadly, become the hallmark of his tumultuous tenure as executive. Tackling this issue didn’t require an emergency declaration. Gun violence and spikes in crime throughout the state should have been addressed through the normal process of government — working with the legislature as co-equal branches of government and ensuring proper checks and balances.

Repeatedly, our Republican Assembly Conference has offered several solutions to the governor and our colleagues in the legislature, including the “Restore Order” package of legislation. It includes measures like restoring judicial discretion on bail, requiring unanimity from parole-board members when considering early release, and additional reforms aimed at keeping violent criminals off the streets. 

New Yorkers have again been subjected to mandates and orders from the governor that deflect blame and miss the mark. This order is an admission that the Democrats in the state have failed to keep New Yorkers safe. The substantial violent-crime surge we are suffering through is not going to be “cured” from the governor’s desk. Instead, it will require a comprehensive approach to adopt and implement new policies that allow judges and law enforcement to do their jobs and protect the residents of this state. Criminals can no longer be allowed to thrive while law-abiding citizens live in a constant state of fear, watching their communities be destroyed by violence.          

William (Will) A. Barclay, Republican, is the New York Assembly minority leader and represents the 120th New York Assembly District, which encompasses most of Oswego County, including the cities of Oswego and Fulton, as well as the town of Lysander in Onondaga County and town of Ellisburg in Jefferson County. Contact Barclay at 

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