Bruce Blakeman seeks gun donations for Ukraine, but doesn't say how weapons would get there
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman on Thursday urged residents to drop off licensed, unloaded long rifles at a Franklin Square gun shop for donation to Ukrainians, but did not say how the weapons would get to the Eastern European nation.
At a news conference outside SP Firearms Unlimited, Blakeman said county residents, from Friday through Monday, can drop off "long weapons" — rifles, shotguns, AR-15s or a derivative of the AR-15.
Residents also can purchase weapons at the store and leave them there for safekeeping, "until we can get the American government to ship those weapons to the Ukraine," Blakeman said.
Blakeman and county officials did not say how the weapons would get to Ukraine, what kind of federal approvals are needed to send the weapons overseas, or what agencies need to give permission for the county to send the firearms.
Blakeman, a Republican, said only that President Joseph Biden should facilitate shipment of the donated weapons to Ukraine.
"We will collect them. President Biden, you get 'em there," said Blakeman, who referred to a call by Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for allies to send weaponry.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
A spokeswoman for Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-Bayport) said the office reached out to the White House Thursday to ask about how the guns could be sent to Ukraine.
Asked by Newsday about Blakeman's request to the Biden administration, a State Department spokesman referred to Secretary of State Antony Blinken's remarks Wednesday encouraging Americans to support nonprofits that are providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
"For those who want to help Ukraine and help its people, there are many ways to do that, including by supporting and helping the many NGOs that are working to provide humanitarian assistance," Blinken said.
Blinken continued: "Providing resources themselves to groups that are trying to help Ukraine, by being advocates for Ukraine and for peaceful resolution to this crisis that was created by Russia. Those are the most effective ways that people who want to help can do so."
Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder told Newsday, "after consultation with our legal Bureau, we see no issues and I fully support my county executive."
On Saturday, the U.S. Department of Defense said it was sending another $350 million to aid Ukraine's defense, including anti-armor, small arms and various munitions, body armor and related equipment.
With Laura Figueroa Hernandez and Nicole Fuller