RYE BROOK, N.Y. -- The Rye Brook Police Department has joined an effort to encourage gun manufacturers to play a part in reducing gun violence.
The effort is spearheaded by Metro Industrial Areas Foundation and its local affiliate, Westchester United, a network of churches, synagogues and other faith-based community organizations who work together to generate social change. The groups are working to form coalitions of communities to begin conversations with gun manufacturers about safer gun distribution practices and ways to reduce gun violence.
Pastor Jim O'Hanlon of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Rye Brook, a member of Westchester United, approached Chief Gregory Austin of the Rye Brook Police Department with the idea of becoming one of the local communities who have joined the coalition. Scarsdale, White Plains and New Rochelle have also joined. Austin brought the matter to the Village Board, who passed a resolution supporting the coalition. The police department has resolved to review future firearm purchases so that it considers manufacturers who employ responsible gun distribution practices.
"In Rye Brook, we purchase ammunition every year for firearms qualification and firearms training, but our firearms purchases are probably about every ten years so we're a small player in that regard, but this is a grassroots effort, they're looking to build a group of communities who support this," Austin said.
"In the year since Newtown, there's been a lot of discussion about frustration about nothing being done to address gun violence and the despair in being able to do anything legislatively in Washington," said O'Hanlon, who also serves on the Council of Community Services of Port Chester, Rye Brook and Rye Town.
O'Hanlon said that local clergy have begun reaching out to police and law enforcement agencies in an effort to start conversations with the gun manufacturers. They want to discuss the implementation of technology that would prevent guns from being operated by someone other than its owner. There is also technology being developed that could restrict guns from being fired in certain zones, such as near a school.
"All of this is exciting research that could make a difference in terms of gun violence in the United States," O'Hanlon said. "If Washington is not going to impose any kind of legislation, we're thinking that maybe the industry itself could adopt standards that would make our society and our world safer."
O'Hanlon said that members of the coalition have traveled to Europe and have been trying to meet with gun manufacturers, and have also met with members of the European Union and representatives from the Vatican. He said that he has also spoken with the Port Chester police chief, and will continue those conversations.