Malverne Police Chief John Aresta appeared on Fox Business Network Wednesday morning to weigh in on the gun control debate.
On the morning after New York became the first state to pass strict gun measures in the wake of and hours before President Barack Obama signed executive orders to push for federal gun control laws, Chief Aresta shared his views with Stuart Varney, on Varney & Co.
Varney introduced Aresta as not only chief of Malverne's police force but also the nephew of one of the seven victims killed in the mass shooting on the Long Island Railroad in 1993.
Aresta told Varney that he supported gun control "both personally and professionally."
"I send my guys out there everyday to protect and serve the people of my village and the State of New York," he said. "I personally don't see a reason why anyone would need a 30-round clip or a 10-round clip for an assault rifle."
When asked if the SAFE NY Act, signed Tuesday night by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, would have prevented the LIRR shooting, Aresta said, "It's possible."
The gunman, Colin Ferguson, "may have been picked up on a mental health issue," Aresta said, explaining that Ferguson had already been expelled from one college and disciplined at another for his "rants" and "illogical thinking" prior to the shooting.
Part of the NY SAFE Act "expands Kendra’s Law, which grants judges the authority to require people who meet certain mental wellness criteria to regularly undergo psychiatric treatment as a condition to live within the community, and provides a mechanism to keep firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill, " NYS Assemblyman Brian Curran, who voted in favor of the bill, stated Tuesday.
Had a mental health official been required to report Ferguson, a red flag may have been raised and perhaps, the LIRR shooting might have been stopped, Aresta explained. And although the NY SAFE Act does not ban semi-automatic handguns, Ferguson's weapon of choice, it does prohibit the magazine clip he used, he added.
Aresta said he spoke with some of his officers who are hunters and members of the National Rifle Association, asking them when was the last time anyone went hunting with an AR-15 or a M-4. "The answer is really nobody does," he said.
The police chief also countered the argument that private citizens need assault weapons and high-capacity magazines for protection against criminals.
"I don't know of any time in my neighborhood or around when somebody has called the police, because someone broke into their home and they've had to actually defend their home with a firearm," he said. The response time for Malverne Police is under one minute, and 1-2 minutes for surrounding communites, he explained, adding, "I don't see why you would have to defend your home like that when the police are readily available."
One of the panelists pointed out that the majority of victims killed by guns in America are not involved in mass shootings and argued that the measures President Obama would be presenting Wednesday do not help these people.
Aresta agreed, but said, "It's a start. We have to start somewhere."
Had laws like this been enacted 20 years ago, Aresta said, there would't be more than 1 million assault rifles in New York State alone. Although Malverne has not had any incidents involving these weapons or high-capacity magazines, Aresta told the panel that in neighborhoods only two miles away from the village, there have been drive-by shootings where a gunman has unloaded a 30-round clip, spraying houses and cars with bullets, and people have been caught in the cross fire.
"This is not something that's going to fix us for tomorrow," he said, "but hopefully, the next generation won't have to deal with the amount of assault rifles and weapons of mass destruction that we have now."