‘This insanity must stop now’: Queens officials condemn El Paso and Dayton massacres, call for new gun laws

Photo by Jenna Bagcal/QNS

The presumptive nominee for Queens district attorney called the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that killed 29 people in less than 24 hours this past weekend “heart-wrenching.”

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, who declared victory over Tiffany Cabán in the race after the city Board of Elections certified her as the winner on July 29, said her thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones and she is grateful to the first responders whose bravery saved lives in both cities.

“Mass shooting like these are sadly not new to us, and we need to reckon not just with the epidemic of mass shootings and gun violence in America, but its causes,” Katz said on Aug. 4. “We cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the racism and white supremacy that lead to domestic terrorism attacks like yesterday’s in El Paso. We cannot continue to pretend that access to weapons of war does to enable massacres like yesterday’s in Dayton.”

Katz edged Cabán by just 60 votes that was determined by a recount last month after she performed solidly in southeast Queens, where she has worked hard to reduce gun violence in the most vulnerable neighborhoods in the borough, collaborating with organizations such as the Kings of Kings Foundation in Far Rockaway and LIFE Camp in Jamaica.

“We cannot forget that the lack of reasonable gun control legislation in America puts Queens families in harm’s way every single day,” Katz said. “From finally passing HR8 to passing a ban on assault weapons to implementing ‘Cure Violence’ programs in partnership with community groups throughout Queens to investing in mental health programs citywide to using the full power of the law to prevent hate crimes, we must do more to protect our communities from gun violence.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo, who passed sweeping gun control legislation in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre in 2013 and signed several new gun control measure into law just last week, said the country is under attack from within from the federal government’s inaction.

“This insanity must stop and it must stop now. Those who are unwilling to do anything about it are complicit,” Cuomo fumed. “I am sick of excuses. I don’t want to hear, ‘We can’t,’ because we know you can, and you just ‘don’t.’ In New York we are standing up for sensible gun safety laws to keep our families and children safe and speaking out against the bigotry and hateful rhetoric fueling many of these attacks. Washington must do the same.”

President Donald Trump addressed the nation from the White House Monday morning calling on Congress to pass red flag laws to identify those liable to commit such crimes. He added that Washington “must come together” in the wake of the shootings to “get strong background checks” for gun users.

State Senator Michael Gianaris of Astoria did just that last week when his 30-day background check waiting period was enacted last week when the governor signed it into law.

“Commonsense gun safety will save lives, period. Stronger background checks will keep guns away from dangerous people,” Gianaris said. “This epidemic of gun violence in our country is terrifying. We need to get the guns off the streets and out of the hands of dangerous people. I am proud to have written some of America’s toughest gun safety laws and to be part of a new New York Senate, which prioritizes the safety of our families and schools. I’m glad the governor enacted this important measure.”

Cuomo warned over the weekend that he can pass the strongest gun laws in the country, but that wouldn’t stop someone from bringing a gun from another state. He said that is why the federal government needs to act now.

“Continuing to ignore what is happening around us will only lead to more bloodshed and more tragedy, all of it preventable,” Cuomo said. “Our hearts break for these families. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I’m sorry you live in a country with a federal government that allows this to happen and does nothing.”

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