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I read Congressman Collins’ tweet after the latest and largest (not last) mass shooting in the long history of American gun violence. Collins tweeted “Devastated to learn about the tragedy in Las Vegas. My thoughts and prayers and (sic) with the victims and their families.”

Well, Congressman Collins, your thoughts and prayers are not enough. They are not healing and they are not soothing.

One may ask if your thoughts and prayers are for each and every one of the 58 unsuspecting Americans who died and the more than 500 who were wounded; are there individual prayers for each of them or just a group prayer? Do you also pray for their families and loved ones who have lost and will suffer so much? Do you pray for the first responders and witnesses who pitched in to help and who will hurt as a result of the carnage they witnessed?

Do you pray as well for the more than 90 Americans who die each and every day from gun violence? Do you pray for the more than 33,000 who die annually? What about their families? How about thoughts and prayers for the more than 100,000 who are gravely injured by gunfire every year? What about their families? They suffer too!

We know how you feel when one of your own suffers the same fate. You arm up – after the Rep. Scalise shooting you said “I can assure you, from this day forward, I will be carrying when I’m out and about.” You introduced federal legislation to undo the NY SAFE Act which helped NY attain the 3rd highest gun safety rating in the nation and which is supported of by a wide majority of NYers and a majority of upstate voters.

So here is a better idea! Why not introduce legislation permitting guns everywhere? Allow them in government buildings, into the US Capitol and the Senate and House Office Buildings? And in the Supreme Court. All the places you can hide from the daily threat and promise of gun violence that the rest of us face. How about allowing guns around the Capitol grounds as you go and from your place of security while 7, 8 and 9 year-olds and teens run the gamut to and from school? And in their homes. How about guns in the homes of domestic abusers and terrorists?

If guns make us all safer, then you should be willing to permit guns everywhere. What could go wrong? You want guns in our churches and in our schools and in taverns and movie theaters, mandate them in NRA Headquarters too.

Quit chipping away at gun rights – go full throttle! Guns everywhere! Why restrict them from domestic abusers and the mentally ill and convicts and terrorists and children. Guns in airplanes and on school busses, in hospitals, mental health facilities and daycare centers. At Fantasy Island and Disneyland. At the Super Bowl and NRA conventions.

Why bother with metal detectors and body scanners in airports and at Bills’ and Sabres’ games? Guns everywhere!

Obviously, you are not alone in this disgrace. Your complicity is shared by the entire Republican caucus and too many Democrats. But make no mistake, the blood money in your pocket from the NRA and your fealty to them is as complicit in those deaths as if you pulled the trigger that kills our children and grandchildren and brothers and sisters, on a daily basis.

Dante wrote “The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in time of moral crisis preserve their neutrality.” What must be reserved for those who turn a blind eye to this ongoing tragedy at a time of real moral crisis and real domestic terror?

I live in your Congressional District, but you are not my representative.

Paul McQuillen

Upstate Coordinator of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence and Member – Stop the Violence Coalition



Dear Artvoice,

I have no fear of goblins, witches, or evil clowns lurking on Halloween.
What really scares me is the meat industry.

This is the industry that deprives, mutilates, cages, then butchers
billions of cows, pigs, turkeys, chickens – animals who feel joy,
affection, sadness, and pain, as we do…that  exposes undocumented
workers to chronic workplace injuries at slave wages, and exploits
farmers and ranchers by dictating market prices…

The industry that contributes more to our epidemic of diabetes, heart
disease, stroke, and cancer than any other, then bullies health
authorities to remove warnings from dietary guidelines…

That sanctions world hunger by feeding nutritious corn and soybeans to
animals, instead of people…

The industry that generates more water pollution than all other human
activities, that spews more greenhouse gases than all transportation,
that destroys more wildlife habitats than all other industries.

These are the things that keep me up at night.

Fortunately, my local supermarket offers a rich selection of plant-based
meats, milks, cheeses, and ice creams, as well as a colorful display of
fresh fruit and veggies. It gives me hope and courage for my future. But
I still fear for my friends and neighbors.


Blaine Hamilton


Over the past 6 years the leadership of the Fruit Belt have come together to preserve, maintain, and own land within the Fruit Belt for the continued integrity, affordability, and history of our neighborhood.Although The Fruit Belt has continued to pursue the negotiation of a Community Benefits Agreement with the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, the result has yet to happen but the regardless, something meaningful and necessary for my community and others like us who are consistently threatened by the negative impacts of gentrification has taken place.The leadership of the Fruit Belt community have worked diligently to create a conversation around land ownership, collective responsibility, and in the process have created partnerships that have been outstanding. In creating such partnerships, the Community First Alliance table was formed in 2015. Now a collaborative movement has been comprised of residents, stakeholders, and the leadership of pre-existing Fruit Belt organizations. Also, we have benefited greatly from assistance and guidance from the City Of Buffalo, including Councilman Pridgen, former Councilmember James Pitts, Open Buffalo, Push, and others who are valued for their contributions.
Over the past two years, CFA has worked to establish a Community Land Trust in the Fruit Belt in preparation to gain community control of land and work this community back to being self-sufficient.
In preparation for the Land Trust, we have also conducted a fact finding mission on the 9th floor of the Rath Building just about a year ago, discussing the options between a Land Bank or a Land Trust, and then moved forward to gain a Land Trust. In the work that has been accomplished, we have pushed forward to participate in the upcoming auction.We also did believe that BENLIC and the Land Bank legislation would work in tandem with our efforts and we would also have a partnership.  Now in preparation for the city’s auction, having raised funds to acquire land, and pull together the required information to not only assure that some of our neighbors retained their homes, but also purchase land,we discover that our options have been significantly reduced due to BENLIC’s “Superbid” power, that it will use to acquire land on behalf of the City Of Buffalo.
This is disconcerting to say the very least, considering that this measure is being used within the Fruit Belt boundary. BENLIC’s role is not to acquire and bank vacant land, but has a mission statement that says BENLIC’s purpose is “to return formally tax delinquent properties to the tax roll through sale to a responsible owner “ and as a “community-driven redevelopment agency who assists every community in Erie County with meeting their respective land use and neighborhood planning goals “
Therefore, we can only assume that the City Of Buffalo is trying to use a loophole to secure land for development without lifting the moratorium so that the stakeholders from the neighborhood won’t actually benefit from the coming development.
Therefore, we respectfully request that arrangements be made to assist F.B.C.L.T.  to acquire the vacant properties currently on the “Superbid” list, that fall within the Fruit Belt, listed on
;192 Rose Street and 69 Rose Street. We strongly believe that as one of New York’s founding eight Land Banks, your willingness to assist with more impactful community driven redevelopment would not only benefit us, but is actually what your agency was fundamentally founded to do. We call on the City Of Buffalo to finally do what is right by our community, reminding you that the land belongs to the people.
 Dennice Barr
President of The Fruit Belt Advisory Council, and Community Land Trust Board member.