BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A Republican congressman looking to become governor of New York is calling for the return of the death penalty.
Lee Zeldin’s (NY-1) comments came Sunday after 10 people were killed and three others were injured in Buffalo in an act of white supremacist terrorism.
“NY must bring back the death penalty!” Zeldin wrote on Twitter. “I’m calling on Hochul to act. We won’t let this go. Killing police officers & first responders, fatal hate crimes like yesterday’s attack in Buffalo, homicides w/ multiple victims, & many other crimes should be eligible for the death penalty.”
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Eddie Mays was the last person to ever be executed in New York, nearly six decades ago in 1963.
The Columbia University Center for Justice says the death penalty was outlawed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1972. Before this change was made, they say New York ranked second in most executions of any state over more than three centuries.
In 1995, the Death Penalty Information Center says former Governor George Pataki signed legislation to reinstate capital punishment, but it was declared unconstitutional by the New York State Court of Appeals in 2004.
“Those who commit fatal hate crimes, acts of terrorism, and other extreme violence should be brought to justice, and in some cases, the only fitting form of justice is the death penalty,” Zeldin says.
According to a recent WIVB/The Hill/Emerson College poll, Zeldin is leading in support among Republican gubernatorial candidates, with 26%.
Additionally, 84% of New Yorkers in the same poll said they are “very or somewhat concerned about gun violence.”
It is possible the accused gunman from Saturday’s mass shooting at a Buffalo Tops Markets could receive the death penalty, however, since the death penalty is not in effect in New York, the case would have to be prosecuted federally for that to happen.