Nassau Executive Blakeman announces gun drive to send weapons to Ukraine

FRANKLIN SQUARE, Long Island (WABC) -- Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman announced a gun collection drive Thursday for Ukrainian citizens fighting against Russian forces.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly said his citizens are in dire need of weapons to protect themselves after the country was invaded.

Blakeman said residents will be able to donate unloaded legal weapons to SP Firearms Unlimited, located at 804 Hempstead Turnpike in Franklin Square.

"We want rifles, AR-15s and shotguns," Blakeman said. "President Zelenskyy for the last few days has been begging weapons, begging for help. How could we sit by silently and not do our part?"

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For Blakeman, whose grandparents immigrated to the US from the Ukraine, doing his part means organizing the gun drive.

"When you see how many American men and women, who lost their lives in World War II, we don't want that to happen again," he said. "We want this over now."

He was joined by leaders from the Long Island Ukrainian community, making a plea to legal gun owners to donate their own firearms or buy one and donate it.

"We 100% support the initiative of the county executive to arm Ukrainian army," said Volodymyr Tsyalkovsky, of the Ukrainian Americans of Long Island. "They need to be able to fight and survive this aggression."

Blakeman is asking for working guns only, and they must be unloaded. Gun owners are asked not to bring ammunition or handguns.

"There is a tremendous amount of red tape trying to get this to the Ukraine," he said. "So we're going to need the president's help, we'll need the help of our partners in federal government."

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Donations are being collected from Friday through Monday and will be stored safely until they can be legally shipped to the Ukraine.

"Whatever you can do, do it," said Misha Migdal, with the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce. "Do it now. Because there may be no tomorrow."

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