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Gun Violence: Local Advocates Say What We Can Do to Limit Access to Guns

marchforourlivesThe heartbreaking mass shooting on Valentines Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida has refocused the country on the need for stronger gun control laws. Though at time like this, we sometimes feel helpless, we can all be inspired to advocate by the students at the school who have become instant and effective activists for gun control.

Here in New York, we have strong gun control laws and politicians who stand up to the NRA, but advocates for gun control say that more work is needed.

Here are statements on the shootings from State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, Governor Andrew Cuomo and advocacy group New Yorkers Against Gun Violence. If you have ideas on how to prevent further tragedies, share them in the comments section below (include your name) or send your letters for publication to scarsdalecomments@gmail.com.

State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin

Every time there is an unspeakable tragedy, like yesterday's shooting in Parkland, Florida, we hear too quickly, "But there's nothing we can do." Some people mean there's nothing we can do because common sense laws to curb gun violence won't work, and others mean the gun lobby is too strong to be overcome. I can say with confidence that both groups are wrong. I have made fighting to protect our children and our residents from gun violence a priority since I joined the amypaulinAssembly 17 years ago, and was an advocate myself on this issue long before then.

Today, New York has done more than nearly any other state to keep guns out of the wrong hands, and we did it over the fierce resistance of the gun lobby. You cannot legally buy an AR-15 or a high-capacity magazine in New York State because of the laws we passed. You must undergo a background check to buy guns, as well as to buy ammunition. These laws have not been universally popular. Sometimes, I've had to endure some rude shouting when I've talked about preventing gun violence. But there's not a doubt in my mind the fight has been worth it and that these steps have saved lives.

There is still so much more that we need to do. Senator Diane Savino and I have fought for a bill to take guns out of the hands of those convicted of domestic violence. I am also sponsoring Nicolas's law, which would require the safe storage of firearms to prevent more injuries and deaths, particularly of children. In New York, the fight continues.

But our state cannot do it alone. We need Congress to show some of the resolve that we showed here in New York. We need our federal lawmakers to reject the notion that commonsense gun laws won't work, to refuse to be cowed by the gun lobby, and to realize that thoughts and prayers needs to be followed by action. How many more of our children will be lost before Congress finally comes together to protect our communities?

Governor Andrew Cuomo

cuomo5"In the wake of the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, Washington has responded with the same appalling complacency and inaction it provided to the hundreds of mass shootings that have devastated our country since Sandy Hook.

"Now, instead of taking action to keep our children safe, President Trump is trying to make it easier for individuals who commit serious crimes and those who are dangerously mentally ill to buy guns. It's as shocking as it is dangerous. The President's proposed budget slashes critical funding that states like New York use to strengthen background reporting on potential gun buyers. This reckless measure would undermine the very safeguards that protect us and put the American people in harm's way.

"In New York, we are doing the exact opposite. Following the Sandy Hook massacre, we actually did something and passed the strongest gun safety law in the nation. As of December 2017, 75,000 people deemed to be dangerously mentally ill by a licensed mental health professional have been added to a database to keep guns out of the wrong hands. This year, we are taking new steps to keep guns away from dangerous people by proposing to remove all firearms from those who commit domestic violence crimes.

"Instead of cutting funding for critical security measures, the President should follow our lead and advance common-sense gun safety legislation. The American people have waited far too long."

County Executive George Latimer

It should also be noted that one of George Latimer's first moves as Westchester County Executive was to sign a law banning gun shows on all county-owned properties, including the Westchester County Center, where gun shows had previously been held.

In January 2017, the Westchester County Board of Legislators passed a similar ban but it was vetoed by former County Executive Rob Astorino.

 

Commenting on the ban, Latimer said, ""We will lead, we will take action, we will be strong and (take) effective action, and we are not afraid to stand behind the things that we believe in."

New Yorkers Again Gun Violence

NYAGVNew Yorkers Against Gun Violence, a legislative advocacy group, had this to say about actions you can take to limit access to guns:

Yesterday in Parkland, Florida, at least 17 high school students were massacred by a gunman with an AR-15 assault weapon and multiple rounds of ammunition. Once again, easy access to guns caused senseless death, trauma, and grief. The "thoughts and prayers" of elected officials have done nothing to prevent mass shootings and they won't prevent the next massacre. Or the next. Or the next.

The truth is, much can be done to stop the carnage that Americans fear each day, whether they're in school, at church, at work, or on the street. We grieve for the victims and their families. And we must demand action from our lawmakers.

Please take action today on these measures:

1. Federal Assault Weapons Ban

While the purchase of military-style assault weapons is banned in New York State, we need a federal ban on these weapons to prevent mass shootings nationwide and to reduce the trafficking of these weapons into our communities. A federal assault weapons ban law would ban the sale, transfer, manufacture and importation of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

Call your U.S. Senators via the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and call the President at (202) 456-1111 and demand that they support Senator Dianne Feinstein's bill to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines (S. 2095).

2. Extreme Risk Protection Orders

The New York Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) bill would enable family, household members, and law enforcement to petition a court to suspend the access to guns for an individual in crisis. ERPO laws are an effective way to prevent mass shootings, domestic violence, suicide, and other gun deaths and injuries.

Sign the petition to tell state lawmakers to support the Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) bill.

Do you have ideas about what we can do to end gun violence? Please share your ideas below and remember to include your name.

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