In the wake of President Barack Obama's call for a ban on military-style assualt weapons, Port Chester Police Chief Joseph Krzeminski said he agrees with the proposed ban.
Krzeminski also said that police in Port Chester and Rye Brook are working closely with school officials to ensure the safety of local schools in reaction to the deadly Newtown, CT, shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
On the issue of assault weapons - such as the AR-15 used in the Sandy Hook incident to kill 20 students and six adults - Krzeminski gets right to the point.
"There is no reason for a civilian to have an assault weapon," Krzeminski said. "It's not a hunting weapon."
As a law enforcement officer, Krzeminski said the danger to the community from assualt weapons outweighs any threat to Second Amendment freedoms.
However, Krzeminski said his experience has taught him that banning assualt weapons would only be one of many steps necessary to prevent mass shooting tragedies such as Sandy Hook. Krzeminski said he supports efforts to prevent bullying and to identify trouble youths as necessary to help avoid similar incidents in the future.
Krzeminski said discussions are on-going with Port Chester and Rye Brook school officials determine necessary security measures.
In Port Chester, the police department does not have any school resource officers — cops who are specifically assigned to spend time at schools. Nor does Port Chester does not have a DARE program, in which police officers work with fifth-graders in an anti-substance abuse education program.
Krzeminski said that because of staffing reductions, the police department no longer has a full-time youth officer assigned to deal with incidents specifically involving children and teenagers. At its high point, the Port Chester Police Department had 67 officers, with 57 at recent low points.
The department now has 59 officers - with two new officers hired and currently in training.
Here are the key parts of President Obama's proposals to curb gun violence:
- Closing background check loopholes to keep guns out of dangerous hands
- Banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and taking other common sense steps
- Making schools safer
- Increasing access to mental health services
These are measures President Obama is calling on Congress to pass as soon as possible:
- Eliminating loopholes and requiring background checks for all gun sales
- Reinstating the prohibition on high-capacity magazines
- Renewing and strengthening the ban on assault weapons
- Creating serious penalties for gun traffickers
- Getting armor-piercing bullets off the streets by prohibiting the possession and transfer of this dangerous ammunition
- Keep 15,000 cops on the street
- Further research on gun violence
- Help schools develop and implement comprehensive emergency management plans
- Removing restrictions that require ATF to authorize importation of dangerous weapons simply because of their age
Here are the 23 executive orders Obama signed to fast-track some efforts:
Closing background check loopholes
1. Require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system
2. Address unnecessary legal barriers that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system
3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system
4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks
5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun
6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers
Steps to reduce gun violence
7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign
8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission)
9. Require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations
10. Release a DOJ (Department of Justice) report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement
11. Nominate an ATF director
12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations
13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime
14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence
15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies
16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes
17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities
Making schools safer
18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers
19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship, and institutions of higher education
Increasing access to mental health services
20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover
21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges
22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations
23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health