By Bill Parry
In the wake of several protests in response the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla., New York State Republicans Wednesday rejected four proposals aimed at improving gun safety.
State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) blasted his colleagues for blocking his Effective Background Checks Act, which would extend the time after which a firearm can be obtained without a background check from the current three days to 10.
“More responsible gun laws will make our communities safer, keep firearms away from dangerous people and ensure preventable tragedies do not happen,” Gianaris said. “I am appalled Senate Republicans voted down the common sense measures we proposed today, including my Enhanced Background Checks Act. Senate Republicans’ twisted values put the NRA first and schoolchildren last. Senate Democrats will not stop fighting for a safer future for New York families.”
The other proposals would enable courts to remove firearms from people judged to be a danger to themselves or others, ban bump stocks, and establish a firearm violence research institute to effectively study gun crime as a public health issue.
Meanwhile, the de Blasio administration is working on a date and a location for a town hall event for high school students from all five boroughs to discuss gun violence and mobilize against it. Survivors of the mass shooting have led a nationwide campaign protesting federal lawmakers’ failure to act on the issue of gun control after 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz allegedly shot and killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School more than two weeks ago.
“I’m going to have a town hall meeting as early as next week where I invite New York City high school students to come in and talk about what they’re feeling about this moment in history, what they want to do about it, the leadership they’re going to provide to make sure we’re all safe going forward,” de Blasio said during his weekly appearance on NY1.
“And this is something I think we have to do all over the country now. There’s a call for nationwide action next month. I can’t remember anything like that — certainly you’d have to go back to the ‘60s or the ‘70s to remember anything where high school students all over the country were talking about a coordinated effort on an issue. This is powerful and exciting and I think we have to support it.”
Last week, the mayor unveiled a plan for random security screenings and metal detectors in every middle and high school for at least a day, regular active shooter drills and unannounced weapons checks to better protect New York City’s 1.1 million public school students. That announcement came a day after a student was arrested in the Bronx for threatening to shoot up his school.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a new multi-state coalition, now representing 35 million Americans, that will share information, trace and intercept the flow of out-of-state guns, and establish the nation’s first regional gun violence research consortium. This multi-state partnership includes New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
“It’s time for the horrifying mass shootings that have plagued this country for far too long to spur real action and real policy change,” Cuomo said. “Our states collectively already have better gun safety laws than the federal government, and by working together to share information and bolster enforcement, we will keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals and better protect our communities.”
In the nation’s capital, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) announced Tuesday that she would introduce legislation to reinstate the Obama-era mental health background check for gun purchases. President Trump repealed this rule, which would keep individuals with severe mental illnesses from purchasing firearms.
“One step we can take is to make sure deadly firearms don’t end up in the hands of those with severe mental illness,” Maloney said. “Honestly, we shouldn’t even need to introduce this bill — it was taken care of in 2016, but the Republican Majority and President Trump repealed the process before it could ever be fully implemented. So, here we are, redoubling our efforts to keep guns out of the hands of individuals who have no business owning them. I challenge my Republican colleagues to explain why they can’t support this bill.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr