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City of Utica sending 24 illegal guns to be destroyed

By By CAROLINE GABLE

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - On Thursday, Utica Police announced they are sending 24 illegal guns to be destroyed at a steel plant in Auburn, a move that they hope also sends out another message.

Several local leaders spoke Thursday about keeping Central New York safe by keeping illegal guns off the streets. On average, Utica Police confiscate one illegal gun every week.

Utica Police Chief Mark Williams said the definition of illegal guns is not always understood.

"Rifles and shot guns themselves are not illegal to possess by a law abiding citizen, but they become illegal based on the amount that they are cut down," Chief Williams said.

A sawed-off shotgun and shorted rifle are just some examples Chief Williams cited of how a once-legal gun becomes illegal.

Utica Mayor David Roefaro is a member of the Mayors Against the Gun Show Loophole.

Roefaro said the gun show loophole allows criminals to obtain guns at out of state gun shows, and bring them into Central New York.

"They equate to about 60 percent of the illegal guns in Utica," Roefaro said.

However, Roefaro said the he wants people to know that this is not a second amendment issue.

"This is about illegal guns and the criminals who possess them," Roefaro said. "This is not about the second amendment right to bear arms. Anybody can go across the state line and buy an illegal gun at a show for cash with no questions asked and they can bring that gun back to New York State."

Buying a gun at a gun show from someone not officially in the business who only makes occasional sales within their state of residence is legal in 33 states. That "loophole," has been closed in 17 states including New York.

Rosemary Vennero is a Director at the YWCA, and spoke about guns and domestic violence at Thursday's press conference. Vennero said she supports any efforts to keep the victims of abuse safe, who can otherwise be threatened by illegal guns.

"In New York State, if you file for an order of protection you have to surrender your gun," Vennero said. "So if you surrender your legal guns and we think that we've protected the victim, and you can have this easy access to illegal guns what have we really done? Have we really protected the victim?"

Utica Police Chief Williams said that the 24 illegal guns now headed to Auburn to be destroyed were confiscated largely through drug arrests, and motor vehicle stops. In addition, 20 illegal guns are also currently in evidence.

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