By Bill Parry
Students at Bard High School Early College in Long Island City will take part in a national walkout March 14 to protest federal inaction on gun violence following the mass shooting that claimed 17 lives last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Women’s March youth chapters across the country are calling for students to walk out of their schools at 10 a.m. to “protest Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers after school shootings,” according to their website.
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) met with some of the Bard students last Friday to discuss gun control and school safety and how best to effectuate change.
“The shooting in Parkland has activated young people across the country to advocate for their safety and for gun control,” Van Bramer said. “This meeting is one of the positive things to come out of that tragedy. As young people continue to meet with, hold accountable, and inspire lawmakers, we may see progress on this issue. Meeting with the students provided me an amazing opportunity to see the current climate from the unique perspective of these students and left me with a sense of hope about our future.”
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) also met with high schoolers Sunday in Manhattan to launch a new Senate push to require universal gun background checks, rein in assault weapons.
“If there is one thing this movement has declared, it is that we must plug the wide range of loopholes and deficiencies in our gun safety laws,” Schumer said. “We have seen an epidemic of gun violence and mass shootings simply envelope America for too long. Each one reveals new loopholes and gaps in gun safety. Rather than just plugging one leak in response to the last mass shooting, we need a complete approach that improves our gun safety laws from top to bottom and helps prevent future shootings.”
First, Schumer, the Senate minority leader, is urging Congress to pass legislation that closes existing loopholes in the background check system, like the gun show loophole and the internet sales loophole that allow individuals to evade a background check and purchase weapons with cash and no questions asked. Second, Schumer is urging Congress to pass legislation that allows for protective orders to temporarily disarm individuals who have shown credible signs of being a harm to themselves or to others.
And finally, Schumer is calling for a formal debate on assault weapons on the floor of the Senate.
Schumer detailed this plan as part of a new push for a floor vote because he said the pressure on Congress to act is unlike it has ever been and that young people will not stand for gridlock on guns.
“Americans are fed up with the unbending position of the NRA, which is to do nothing now and always, no matter how many lives are lost,” Schumer said. “The coming days will prove whose side the president is on and whose side so many in Congress are on, too. I am hopeful that we are at the beginning of the march towards meaningful legislation and that is why we are making this push with these students in New York City.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr