To assure Angellyh Yambo’s death was not in vain, U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres has proposed legislation intended to ban ghost guns and expand the perimeter of gun-free school zones.
During a June 20 press conference at University Prep Charter High School, Torres joined other elected as well as the 16-year-old’s family last week to try and make a difference during National Gun Violence Awareness Month. It was the place where Yambo went to school, but also where she was killed by another teen using a “ghost gun” last year.
The Angellyh Yambo Gun Free Zone Expansion Act is intended to honor the memory of “a beloved daughter, friend and honor roll student who should still be with us today,” Torres said. “We are the only country in the industrialized world with an epidemic of gun violence and mass shootings, and the notion that this reality is the inevitable price we pay for our freedom is outrageous.”
The proliferation of guns has already contributed to a lot of violence in the country, but the addition of ghost guns — non-serialized and untraceable guns that can be assembled at home — has made life for many even scarier.
“We do not have to live in a world where Americans — and especially children — routinely fall victim to mass murder in the very places where they’re supposed to be safe,” Torres said. “It is far past time for the federal government to crack down on the proliferation of weapons of war on our streets — including untraceable ghost guns — and implement other gun safety measures to protect our communities and save lives.”
The bill would ban the transfer and possession of ghost guns while expanding gun-free school zones from 1,000 feet to 5,000 for all public, private, and charter schools and early childhood education centers. This legislation would go further than current federal regulations requiring manufacturers of ghost gun kits to become licensed under the Gun Control Act, include serial numbers on the kits’ frames or receiver, and require background checks prior to a sale of such a kit.
The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee, and it’s not clear what kind of traction it will have in a Republican-led U.S. House.
“With the proliferation of gun violence reaching epidemic proportions across our city, state and nation, the need for cross-governmental collaboration is greater than ever before,” said Bronx borough president Vanessa Gibson. “This legislation aims to strengthen federal laws around the use of the unregulated and untraceable ghost guns by expanding protections pertaining to the use of firearms near educational facilities.”
Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark focused on the family’s mission to raise awareness of gun violence.
“Naming the proposed legislation for Angellyh is poignantly appropriate, as her family has channeled their grief into advocacy against gun violence,” Clark said.
The Angellyh Yambo Foundation officially launched on Jan. 24 at 3:44 p.m. The organization’s website went live after it received the federal 501(c)(3) nonprofit tax-exempt status. The time and date of the foundation’s launch coincides with Yambo’s birthdate, and time of birth.
“Gun violence is a national crisis that demands a national solution. The ‘Angellyh Yambo Gun Free Zone Expansion Act of 2023’ will help kids in our community feel a little safer walking from and to school,” said Mary Hernandez, Angellyh Yambo’s aunt and chief executive and founder of the Angellyh Yambo Foundation.
The foundation’s mission is to combat gun violence at a national level, according to a statement released by Hernandez. Angellyh’s father, Manuel Yambo of Kingsbridge — and a doorman at The Glen Briar — is also involved in the organization, which is a registered state non-profit.
The foundation is also working to bring anti-bullying and self-defense classes to schools, offer workshops for parents and young people, help prepare students for college, teach about home finances, and build awareness about guns and gun safety.
According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the use of ghost guns in U.S. crimes has soared by more than 1,000 percent since 2017.
According to the CDC, guns are now the leading cause of death for American children and teenagers. So far in 2023, there have been more mass shootings than days in the year, putting the United States on track to set a new record for mass killings.