Nassau County Executive Blakeman announces first shipment of donated guns to Ukraine

FRANKLIN SQUARE, Nassau County (WABC) -- Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman announced the first shipment of donated firearms to Ukraine from the United States on Friday.

He was joined by Jerry Sperduto, the owner of SP Firearms Unlimited and Ukrainian Americans to announce the shipment of over 460 guns.

The guns were donated as part of Blakeman's drive for Ukraine. His great-grandparents came to the U.S. from Ukraine.

"I know there were a lot of naysayers that said that we couldn't do this," Blakeman said. "I would like other mayors, county executives, supervisors, governors to join our effort."

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Ukrainians in New York cited the painful attacks and ongoing onslaught of shelling as the glaring examples of why the need is so pressing.

"Lviv, which is sort of a western capital of Ukraine, was bombed," said Misha Migdal, with the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce. "The war will only stop with this strength."

Blakeman announced the drive earlier this month, encouraging residents to donate unloaded legal weapons to SP Firearms Unlimited on Hempstead Turnpike in Franklin Square.

"It started and it went a little viral, we got a lot of emails and calls from gun shops all over the country, how do we do this in our community?" Sperduto said. "And I said, honestly I don't know. This just happened. We did it quick. We're doing it, and we're going to see if it's going to work."

But a local county executive doesn't have the authority to send weapons directly overseas. That takes government authorization.

And so, Kel-Tec Weapons -- a gun manufacturer located in Florida -- has now been issued an export license and plans to send the weapons, plus another 400 rifles, to Ukraine in the coming days.

Blakeman is wondering, why stop there?

"Now that we know there's a way to do it, we could get tens of thousands of weapons over there," he said. "Maybe hundreds of thousands of weapons."

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Still, some have questioned the unusual nature of a local gun shop and county official playing this role.

"Some people will say, 'Weapons, really?'" Sperduto said. "Well that's what they want if they're not leaving, because they want to fight. What are they going to fight with?"

Blakeman said that he hopes shipments of ammunition could follow, and he hopes the weapons shipment could reach Ukraine in about two weeks.

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