Local leaders join nationwide call for stronger gun control

By Matt Porter

March 28, 2013 Updated Mar 28, 2013 at 6:06 PM EST

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan (D), Police Chief Joseph Zikuski, and other civic leaders call on Congress to pass strict gun control laws.

The Binghamton press conference was one of more than 100 demonstrations being held across the county as part of a National Day to Demand Action.

As part of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Ryan criticized Congress for backing down on legislation banning assault type weapons and high capacity magazines.

"Because we have so many states and so many gun dealers right across the border," Ryan said, "If we don't have some sort of national action, this problem's going to go on and on."

Ryan added the debate should not be controlled by "political fringe groups" that contribute to political campaigns. He said more than 80 percent of Americans favor some sort of "sensible" gun control.

Rabbi Barbara Goldman-Wartell of Temple Concord said more than 2,000 people have been killed by gun violence in the three months since the Newtown shooting. They added more than 200 of those were children.

"We must not stand idly by the blood of our neighbor," Goldman-Wartell said. "We must embark on a moral offensive and send the message to our elected officials that we care deeply about this issue and will hold them accountable."

Police Chief Joseph Zikuski said although New York's gun laws are strict, a lack of a strong national policy still puts New Yorkers at risk.

"The majority of illegal handguns in the state come from outside the state so that's why we need federal legislation," Zikuski said. "A state by itself standing on an island really isn't going to conquer this problem."

Broome County Council of Churches executive director Reverend Joseph Sellepack said stronger background checks are an essential part of the solution.

"We know that everyday, many people are killed by weapons because certain dealers require background checks," Sellepack said, "And consequently the sale and use of these guns are not able to be monitored by police."

In New York, there's still debate over Governor Cuomo's SAFE Act which will ban magazines larger than seven rounds and many assault style weapons.

The limit on magazines is scheduled to take effect on April 15th.