by Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette — Weeks before the Falls planned gun buy back, the local chapter of MAD DADS is looking to help spread the word.
MAD DADS member Ron Cunningham said the group is looking to poster and help advertise the Falls police program, scheduled for Feb. 23, in an effort to end violence on the streets.
"We want a safe community," he said. "We don't want people to have to worry about being shot or killed."
Cunningham and the MAD DADS group are particularly looking to reach out to young men to make responsible decisions with any guns they may own but may have purchased by less-than-legal means.
The organization's name is short for "Men Against Destruction Defending Against Drugs and Social Disorder. There are 16 chapters in the U.S.
He said gang violence is one of the many reasons for some of the violence on the Falls streets, but the issue of too many illegal guns is what the group wants to see addressed through the program.
The buy-back program comes on the heels of the passage of the NY SAFE Act, which imposes new controls on firearms in the state. The act bans the sale of assault weapons and limits the size of ammunition magazines among other provisions.
Cunningham said he'd like to see people sell back their semi-automatic weapons, which he said shouldn't be on the city's streets.
"In my opinion, the only people who should have semi-automatic weapons are people in the military or officers in the police department," he said. "Why do people have them on the street? Just because you can afford it doesn't mean you need to have it. I think everyone has the right to bear arms, but do we really need semi-automatics?"
Niagara Falls isn't the only place with a gun problem, though, he said. He said the entire country's love-affair with firearms has brought a lot of violence onto the country's streets, whether through legal or illegal means.
He blames it on, at least in part, apathy.
"We need to find a better way of doing things here in America," he said. "This is the best place in the world, but we have a lot of problems with violence. Our community especially is occupied by apathy."
Cunningham said in addition to buying guns back, the safety measures police organizers will be offering the community during the program is helpful. Free trigger locks will be available, while safety training will also be offered.
He said people who do choose to carry guns need to be better educated to avoid accidents and other problems which can be avoided.