The lowest-ranking county in the state for gun-related incidents is in the Hudson Valley, according to a recently released report from the Centers for Disease Control.
Based on a five-year average, Westchester ranks the lowest in gun-related homicide deaths in New York, and is the third lowest in overall gun-related deaths and has the sixth lowest death rate of gun-related suicides, according to the report.
The data was provided by the CDC and analyzed by the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, which measured the rates of overall gun-related deaths, and then separately, the rates of suicide and rates of homicide in each of New York’s 62 counties from 2012 through 2016.
Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino, Jr. said that the analysis was released on Monday by the New York ERPO Coalition, a group of district attorneys, law enforcement officials, gun violence prevention advocates, mental health organizations, health care organizations and legislators, who are calling for the adoption of the Extreme Risk Protection Order bill, which would allow school officials, loved ones and law enforcement officials to take guns away from potentially at-risk individuals.
In Westchester, during the five years of the study, there were 119 gun-related deaths, a rate of 2.45 deaths per 100,000 residents. There were 49 gun homicides during that span, for a rate of 1.01 per 100,000 residents, best in the state. There was also 67 gun-related suicides in New York during the study, 1.38 per 100,000 Westchester residents.
New York State’s overall gun-related death rate in 2016 was 4.4 deaths per 100,000 residents, while the national average was 11.8 deaths per 100,000 residents.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been one of the most outspoken elected officials pushing for the ERPO, making the rounds throughout the state to promote the legislation.
Cuomo said the law would “prevent individuals determined by a court to be likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to themselves or others from purchasing, possessing, or attempting to purchase or possess any type of firearm, including handguns, rifles, or shotguns.”
Westchester County Executive George Latimer has also said that it's important for those closest to potentially troubled youths to have the possibility to petition the courts if they see "concerning behavior.”
"Enough is enough. We have to empower teachers, school officials, family members and police officers – those who have close contact to the young people- to raise a red flag if they see concerning behavior," he said. "This is common sense. We need to take steps to protect others and our schools and we need to do it now.”
Under current state law, firearms may be removed from a person subject to a temporary order of protection issued by a criminal or family court, but a court can only issue such an order in connection with a criminal or family offense proceeding.
No law currently exists in New York State that enables a court to issue an order to temporarily seize firearms from a person who is believed to pose a severe threat of harm to himself, herself, or others unless that person has also been accused of a crime or family offense.
“While Westchester County has one of the lowest gun violence rates in the state, one death is too many when that death is often at the hands of someone in crisis,” Scarpino stated. “We continue to urge the legislature to pass the Extreme Risk Protection Order law immediately before our lawmakers go home for the summer. Every day without this law is a potential day for someone to die at their own hands or someone else’s.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.