By Bill Parry
A Queens native was among the high school students killed during a mass shooting in Parkland, Fla. last week. At age 14, Alyssa Alhadeff was one of the youngest victims and the first to be laid to rest after Nikolas Cruz, 19, allegedly opened fire with his AR-15 at his former school, leaving 17 dead and 15 injured.
Nearly 400 people attended her funeral in North Lauderdale Friday, where she was remembered as a talented soccer player who was smart, had an amazing personality, was a great creative writer, and “all she had to offer the world was love,” according to her mother, Lori.
“I wish I could have taken the bullets for you, Alyssa,” she said at the service. I would have protected you.”
The night before the funeral, Lori Alhadeff attended a candlelight vigil with more than 1,000 other mourners, where she gave an emotional interview on CNN imploring President Trump to take action on gun control and stop the killing of children in schools.
“Do something. Action. We need it now. These kids need safety now,” she said. “The gunman, a crazy person, just walks right into the school, knocks down the window of my child’s door, and starts shooting… shooting her and killing her. President Trump. You say what can you do? You can stop the guns from getting into these children’s hands.”
On Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) revealed the Trump’s budget proposal released last week would cripple the gun background check system. Schumer says $12 million would be slashed from federal programs that help state and local governments maintain records on who is ineligible to purchase firearms.
“In the wake of the tragedy in Parkland, Fla., and on the heels of now 30 mass shootings that have taken place this year alone, it is downright dangerous that the president’s budget would seek to undermine the gun background check system,” Schumer said. “No child should have to live in fear of mass shootings and no parent should have to worry about the fate of their child after school drop off in the morning. While we are in dire need of an even stronger background check system in this country, like one that closes the Gun Show Loophole, the White House’s proposal would hurt one of the only firewalls we have in place to stop dangerous people from legally purchasing guns.”
State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) Monday urged the state Legislature to pass his Effective Background Check Act, which would extend the waiting period for background checks from three days to 10. Gianaris renewed this push after learning of the proposed budget cut.
“This is the worst time in our history to further erode responsible measures that keep guns away from dangerous people,” Gianaris said. “Improving background checks was necessary before the Trump funding cuts and is even more important now.”
There is currently a three-day waiting period for a background check to be completed before a seller can transfer a firearm to a purchaser. If the check is not completed in that time, the firearm may be sold without a background check at all. Over 300,000 background checks were not concluded in the three-day period in 2016 alone. Gianaris’ proposal would extend the waiting period to 10 days so that proper background checks could be completed in all cases.
Gianaris’ bill would also require firearms dealers to report to the police any attempts to make illegal gun purchases and would require employees of gun manufacturers and dealers to also undergo background checks.
“Improving background checks was necessary before the Trump funding cuts and is even more important now,” Gianaris said.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr