After House floor sit-in, New York’s Congressional delegation rallies at City Hall

By Bill Parry

After last week’s historic 26-hour sit-in on the House floor, the New York Congressional delegation brought the fight home, rallying with gun safety advocates and victims of gun violence to continue the demand for action while the House is adjourned until July 5.

Shouting “No Bill, No Break,” dozens took to the steps of City Hall Friday to demand the House GOP leadership allow a vote on two Senate proposals to establish mandatory background checks for guns bought online and at gun shows and to ban people on the terrorist watch list from purchasing firearms.

“Enough is enough,” U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) said. “We are done with moments of silence, we are done with prayers. Our thoughts are not enough. Now is the time for action. What began on the House floor Wednesday is continuing here today. That was a start of the movement that will sweep the nation so that the Republicans can no longer ignore the fact that without action, gun violence will continue. By refusing to vote on, or pass, commonsense gun legislation, we do a disservice to those who have suffered from gun violence. The victims and their families deserve more from us; they deserve to see true change.”

Maloney has long supported sensible gun regulation, starting with support of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993, named for President Reagan’s press secretary Jim Brady, who was paralyzed in the assassination attempt on the president. That law provides for background checks for most handgun purposes and has stopped thousands of dangerous individuals from buying firearms.

Since then, Maloney has pushed several key bills to crack down on gun violence by making gun trafficking illegal, allowing federal public health agencies to conduct research into gun safety, closing the gun show loophole and supporting innovative “smart gun” technology. She also co-sponsored legislation to require universal background checks, limit the number of rounds within magazine clips, and renew the expired assault weapons ban.

“Instead of listening to our calls—and the calls of millions of Americans—Republicans voted in the dark of the night to adjourn the House without taking a vote on gun legislation,” U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) said. “We owe it to the victims in Orlando, and across the country, to take a stand and hold a vote. To those adding their voice to our fight: we hear you loud and clear!”

On average, 32,000 deaths and 76,000 injuries were attributed to guns each year, yet since the 1990s political pressure has frozen health research on this national epidemic. Even the author of the original research ban, former Arkansas GOP Rep. Jay Dickey, regrets the outcome and President Obama’s administration has laid out a research plan.

“House Democrats’ historic 26 hour sit-in showed the unrelenting commitment of House Democrats to strengthen our nation’s gun violence prevention laws and make America safer,” U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) said. “Now, we’re taking to neighborhoods and streets across the United States to continue the fight and galvanize the overwhelming majority of Americans who support expanding background checks and preventing terrorists on the “No-Fly” list from getting a gun. Eventually, we will win this fight—in honor of the victims of gun violence, their families and their friends.”

Maloney, who defeated challenger Peter Lindner in the Democratic Congressional primary Tuesday with 89 percent of the vote, kept the pressure on this week. She held a sit-in at Manhattan’s Carl Schurz Park Wednesday morning while Crowley held a roundtable on gun violence prevention in his Jackson Heights offices.

Even though the House is in recess, U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Melville, L.I.) took to the floor Tuesday to demand that Speaker Paul Ryan hold a vote on legislation to address gun violence.

“We’re going to continue to use every tool that we have whether it’s on the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington or in town meetings or sit-ins in community facilities throughout America to make this point that we deserve a vote,” Israel said. “That’s not we Democrats, but the American people who deserve a vote and expect their Congress to keep them safe.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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