08/18/2010 05:05 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Continuing Our Fight Against Illegal Guns

One recent weekend, the Bronx was besieged by an evening of carnage. Between late Friday night and early Saturday morning, August 6 to 7, my borough saw nine shooting incidents, leading to 14 total victims and two fatalities. In just a few hours, a beautiful summer evening in the Bronx turned into a violent nightmare.

In the Bronx, we have seen the number of murders increase this year, up from 68 to 80 at this time last year, according to the most recently available statistics. And this problem does not only affect the Bronx. Citywide, we have seen 40 more murders, from 280 to 320, than we did at this time last year. Increased violence, and the turmoil and loss that comes with it, have taken a hold in all five boroughs.

Since I became Bronx Borough President in April of last year, my office has done a great deal of work to combat gun violence in our borough, continuing my work against illegal guns during my 13 years in the New York State Assembly. In January, my office hosted a gun buyback program at four sites across the Bronx in conjunction with the NYPD and the Bronx District Attorney's Office, during which we took close to 1,200 guns off of our streets. My office also co-sponsors, with New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, a youth council that meets regularly to discuss issues of violence in our streets and solutions to those problems.

Last year, I stood with hundreds of my fellow Bronxites, both youth and adults alike, from all corners of our borough, at a "National Day of Outrage" rally against gun violence. At that event I was so moved by the hundreds of young people that turned out to show that they were sick and tired of the violence that plagues our streets, that I was moved to tears. Every day I speak to Bronx youth and adults to develop solutions to end the violence within our communities. Ending gun violence has been a top priority of mine since I became an elected official, and my commitment to ending the violence has not wavered one bit since I became borough president.

Despite our good work, the actions of those thugs who would continue to terrorize our neighborhoods show us that we have much, much more work to do. We must show zero tolerance for illegal guns on our streets. We need to continue to put pressure on the federal government to pass stricter gun control laws. But we must also stand up for our own communities. We must let the criminals who actively work to destroy our communities know that we will not tolerate their actions.

In the coming weeks, my office will announce a major new initiative, coordinated with our borough's clergy and community organizations, to combat gun violence in our streets. We will take the fight head on. Until then, I would urge Bronxites, and anyone in New York City concerned about gun violence on their streets, to take advantage of the NYPD's Gun Stop program. By calling 866-GUN-STOP, individuals can anonymously report illegal guns in their neighborhoods and receive a $1,000 reward for information that leads to guns coming off our streets.

This is a good first step, but we have much more work ahead of us. We have seen dark times in the Bronx, but together as a community we have worked hard to rebuild our neighborhoods and make our borough a great place to live. Heinous acts of gun violence are not only harmful to the victims, but continue to perpetuate negative stereotypes about who we are as a borough. We will remain undeterred in our efforts to empower the hardworking people of the Bronx, who have relentlessly and untiringly met the challenges of building a better life for themselves and their children, and we will not allow the actions of the worst among us to diminish our progress.