UPPER MANHATTAN — An Upper Manhattan community board has cancelled a forum on gun ownership rights, saying the gun-dealing public safety committee chair who organized it abused his official position.
Community Board 12 members shot down Public Safety Committee Chairman Robert Reynolds' Sept. 12 discussion on “the basic right to personal self-defense and the right to keep and bear arms in New York State,” pulling the plug a week before the date.
“You don’t just create your own item and say this is what I am going to do because I have this committee,” CB12 vice chair George Fernandez told Reynolds at the Wednesday night public safety committee meeting.
"The work of our committees is established through the consensus of the overall community."
Reynolds, who is the President of Cavalier Knight, a Washington Heights-based security firm that sells guns and offers education on safety measures, defended his position on Wednesday, saying "everyone should have the right to keep and bear arms for recreation, target shooting, and lawful hunting."
He wrote on his website that he is licensed by the bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) to sell guns in the state of New York.
NYPD did not respond to a request for information on Reynolds' gun licensing and the ATF said it could not immediately confirm whether he is a licensed gun dealer.
He secured community board approval for the Sept. 12 forum on "the right to personal self defense in New York City," which was slated to be held at the Isabella Geriatric Center on Audubon Ave.
He began sending out flyers and emails on Community Board 12 letterhead in July, urging the community to "please come and join us and give your input & voice your concerns," and adding that, "In New York State, the police have no duty to provide police protection to any particular individual."
Reynolds, who was appointed to the position by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer earlier this year, wrote on his website that, “As an (unpaid) Officer of the City of New York, I would be remiss in my duties as the Chair of the Public Safety Committee if I did not educate and promote all measures of public safety, with an emphasis on firearms education and training for women.”
He added that he regularly works with the NYPD Chief of Community Affairs, the commanding officers of the 33rd and 34th Precincts and reps from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in his work as public safety chair, and “it is my personal opinion that there has been great concern over illegal possession of firearms in New York City."
Stringer's office did not return calls for comment.
CB12 chair Pamela Palanque-North said, while she did not think Reynolds’ gun dealing was a conflict of interest, she didn't like it.
“As an individual and as chair of the board I have great discomfort with the discussion underway,” she said. “But my role is not to govern what this committee discusses.”
Espaillat’s bill, originally presented and sponsored by then-State Sen. Eric Schneiderman, would limit the discretion allowed to gun dealers when deciding whether to sell arms to buyers who pass background checks.
A Senate spokesman said Espaillat’s office requested the bill's withdrawal on Wednesday.
The spokesman went on to explain that the full removal of a bill requires a vote by the full Senate.
Espaillat’s office said the senator has been working to withdraw the bill for some time and has been working with a top gun control group in the state.
“I support expanding gun control and preventing felons, mentally ill individuals, and domestic violence offenders, from accessing firearms,” Espaillat said in a written statement.
“Northern Manhattan has a rich tradition of opposing gun violence and the pro-gun-access resolution presented before Community Board 12 is an affront to our community. We must come together to remove guns from our neighborhoods and enhance public safety for all New Yorkers.”
With additional reporting by Jill Colvin.