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Nibbling around the edges of gun violence

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Gun violence is a devastating, complicated problem.

Federal lawmakers have so far been unwilling to pass comprehensive gun-control legislation, so in that absence, local, state, and federal officials continue with piecemeal efforts to fight gun violence.

For example, US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand sponsors a bill that would make gun trafficking a federal crime. Guns are often purchased legally in one state, she says, then transported and sold illegally in other states. Federal law treats those sales, at best, as a minor crime, she says.

Gillibrand held a roundtable discussion in Rochester last week about the bill and gun violence. The event included local law enforcement and members of the community.

"I think if we create the outcry in our own communities, it can be replicated in other communities" which will help create political support for meaningful gun control legislation, Gillibrand says.

In Rochester, approximately 60 percent of the crime guns recovered by police were at some point legally owned in Monroe County, says Police Chief Michael Ciminelli, although some do come from out of state. He backs Gillibrand's legislation because it'd allow for broader federal efforts against illegal guns, he says.

"It's another tool," Ciminelli says.

County Legislator Ernest Flagler-Mitchell, whose cousin was killed in a recent city shooting, said that keeping people safe starts with keeping guns out of the wrong hands. He's working on legislation to create a county-wide safe storage law for guns, which he plans to release this week.

Flagler-Mitchell's proposal is well-timed. Last week, an 11-year-old boy in Tennessee allegedly shot and killed his neighbor, an 8-year-old girl, after an argument over a puppy. The boy allegedly used his father's shotgun, which was reportedly stored in an unlocked closet.

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