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Police commissioner heads to DC to testify on gun violence: 'We need to make our streets and communities safer'

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Commissioner Gramaglia

Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia arrives at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport for his flight to Washington, D.C., to testify before Congress about the Tops massacre and gun violence.

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Three and a half weeks after the racist mass killing at the Tops Friendly Markets grocery store on Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said he hopes the time has finally come for Washington to act on gun violence.

"We need some change," Gramaglia said Tuesday at Buffalo Niagara International Airport before flying to the nation's capital, where he is scheduled to testify before Congress on Wednesday. "We need to make our streets and communities safer."

Gramaglia and Zeneta Everhart, whose son Zaire Goodman was wounded in the May 14 massacre, will join witnesses from Uvalde, Texas, at a hearing of the House Oversight and Reform Committee at 10 a.m. Wednesday. 

Gramaglia, a 28-year law enforcement veteran who was appointed commissioner in March, will speak on behalf of Buffalo and the Police Department and also as a representative of the Major City Chiefs Association, which advocates for "sensible gun policy." That includes reinstating the assault weapons ban, adopting universal background checks for all gun sales, strengthening the national criminal instant background checks system, supporting red flag legislation to keep guns out of the hands of people with mental illness and histories of violent behavior, and banning bump-stocks and high capacity magazines.

Gramaglia said he planned to speak about the massacre in Buffalo as well as policies that could help reduce gun violence.

"We need some changes to happen," he said. "It's an honor," he said about speaking before Congress.

Still, "I'm very conflicted about it because it's an honor to have this opportunity to speak, but I'm being called to speak because of this racist massacre that happened here locally. I'm going to go there and try to speak for the 13 victims of Buffalo."

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Chief of the Breaking News/Criminal Justice Desk

I've worked at The Buffalo News since 2005. I previously worked as a reporter at the New York Daily News and the Charlotte Observer and was a special correspondent for the Los Angeles Times.

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