By Mark Hallum
U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Little Neck) rattled conservative cages at a recent town hall when he proposed the option of the public using the Second Amendment to oppose the Trump administration if the president disregards the law.
What became the highlight of the March 12 town hall in Huntington was a contrast to Suozzi’s more commonly vocalized stance in favor of gun control. Two days later, he voiced ample support for the student walkout against gun violence.
Suozzi, whose district covers parts of northeast Queens, gathered some criticism after video footage showed him seemingly advocating in favor of armed rebellion against the White House administration.
“It’s really a matter of putting public pressure on the president and making it public, which is hard, to break through the news cycle of all the different things, and it’s probably about going to the courts as well. And then, you know, this is where the Second Amendment comes in quite frankly. Because what if the president was to ignore the courts, what would you do, what would we do?” Suozzi said.
An audience member asked what the Second Amendment is and Suozzi clarified by saying “the right to bear arms.”
“This video is incredibly disturbing. It’s surreal to watch a sitting member of Congress suggest that his constituents should take up arms against the president of the United States,” National Republican Campaign Committee spokesman Chris Martin told the New York Post.
But Suozzi’s senior advisor, Kim Devlin, said the congressman was not encouraging violence but simply explaining the function of the Second Amendment.
“Taking a page from such great Americans as Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, Congressman Suozzi explained why our founding fathers created the Second Amendment as a way for citizens to fight back against a tyrannical government that does not follow the rule of law,” Devlin said. “To suggest his comments meant anything else or that he was advocating for an armed insurrection against the existing president is both irresponsible and ridiculous.”
Suozzi called for better gun legislation to prevent mass shootings from happening in light of the Feb. 14 Parkland, Fla., massacre and backed students calling for political action.
“Today I joined members of Congress and thousands of students for #NationalWalkoutDay outside the U.S. Capitol in an effort to pass commonsense legislation to reduce gun violence,” Suozzi said in a series of tweets March 14. “Look at all of those students! What an inspiring group. We need to listen to them and keep this ‘young people’s movement’ going so we can stop this senseless gun violence.”
Suozzi’s stance on gun control was clarified in a Feb. 22 op-ed in the New York Post in which he called for the passage of the Gun Violence Restraining Order Act, which would give relatives and law enforcement officers the ability to place a temporary hold on a person’s ability to obtain firearms until a court hearing could be held assessing the threat posed by the individual in question while still protecting their constitutional rights.
Suozzi, who was elected in 2016, serves a district that mostly covers Nassau County, but overlaps into the Queens neighborhoods of Douglaston, Little Neck, Bayside and Whitestone.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall