A Citizen Summit Demands "Action Now!" on Gun Violence Congresswoman Maloney joins coalition of gun violence prevention advocates and community leaders in call for Congressional action
NEW YORK—Today, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) joined a growing coalition of gun violence prevention advocates from Moms Demand Action, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, and Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E., as well as Organizing for Action, Hunter College President Jennifer Raab, Executive Director of Hunter College’s Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute Harold Holzer, college students, local parents, community members, Public Advocate Letitia James, State Senators Liz Krueger and Brad Hoylman, Council Members Dan Garodnick , Ben Kallos and Margaret Chin, and Deputy Commissioner of Collaborative Policing Susan Herman for a community forum on gun violence prevention.
The shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon was the 45thschool shooting in 2015, the shooting at Northern Arizona University’s Flagstaff campus is the 46th, and the shooting at Texas Southern University is the 47th, for a total of three shootings on college campuses in less than 10 days, with two of those shootings occurring on the same day, yet many lawmakers refuse to improve the lax gun safety laws that directly contribute to gun violence in this country.
Those in attendance at the forum participated in an enthusiastic discussion on steps that can be taken to ensure the safety of our citizens. There was overwhelming support for two particular pieces of legislation currently pending in the House: H.R. 1217, the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act of 2015—which Maloney is a co-sponsor of—and H.R. 3455, the Gun Trafficking Prevention Act, which Maloney introduced in early September of this year. Meeting participants also expressed a desire to see the New York State SAFE Act fully implemented, and indicated an interest in legislation to track ammunition sales. Deputy Commissioner Herman raised concerns about the prevalence of realistic looking toy guns and Congresswoman Maloney said she would look into legislation to require all toy guns to be bright colors so it is obvious that they are fake. There was discussion of lifting the law exempting gun manufacturers from product liability lawsuits. Many advocates expressed an interest in working with the gun lobby to ensure bi-partisan support for future gun safety efforts. Deputy Commissioner Herman explained to the group that 0.5% of the population is responsible for the vast majority of gun violence, and of that percentage only 4% of the individuals suffer from mental health issues while the bulk of gun violence stems from drug running and gang violence. She also shared that 5,500 officers are being specially trained to recognize when individuals are having a mental health crisis and how to make sure that they receive appropriate help.
Following the forum, Congresswoman Maloney hosted a press conference in the Roosevelt House Four Freedoms Room stressing the need for Congressional action to halt the bloodshed and outlining where gun violence legislation currently stands in Congress.
“In less than a year our country has suffered through 47 school shootings, with three in just the last few days alone” said Congresswoman Maloney. “The social and economic cost of these horrific acts of violence haunt us all long after victims are buried and shooters are apprehended. But even the most appalling acts of gun related bloodshed don't seem to be enough to compel my colleagues in Congress to take decisive, common sense action. The single most fundamental mandate of any government, anywhere, anytime, is to protect its citizens. And this Congress is not doing the job. There have been no hearings, no debates, and no votes. Until we come together and demand change there will be no stop to the violence. It is particularly poignant that we gather today in the Four Freedoms room. One of our freedoms is the freedom from fear, and together we are working towards eliminating the fear of gun violence. This summit is just the beginning.”
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., co-founder of Prosecutors Against Gun Violence, said: “From South Carolina to Louisiana to Oregon, gun violence is wreaking havoc on states all across the country. It is indisputable that lives would be saved if Congress enacts a universal background check system for gun purchases. To prevent shots from ringing out at the next school, movie theater, or military base, we need more than heartfelt condolences and prayers – we need Congress to act now, and I applaud Congresswoman Maloney for her leadership on this critical issue.”
"We are facing a glaring crisis of gun violence in this country,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “We have said the 'time is now' too often, and it is past time for action. I am proud to stand with Congresswoman Maloney and call on her colleagues in Washington to pass aggressive and sensible gun control. Together, we can and will finally take on the scourge of gun violence once and for all."
“Without strong federal gun laws, New York will remain vulnerable to the incessant flow of illegal guns that end up killing and maiming our citizens,” said Leah Gunn Barrett, Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence. “Current federal gun trafficking laws are weak and don’t deter or punish illegal trafficking. Someone who traffics guns receives the same punishment as someone who traffics chickens. We know that 90% of crime guns recovered on the streets of New York City and 68% statewide come from weak gun law states like Virginia and Georgia. We need to tackle firearms trafficking at the federal level by going after straw purchasers, dishonest gun dealers who knowingly sell firearms to traffickers and those who run trafficking rings. In addition, Congress must close the private sale loophole that allows guns to be sold without a criminal background check, reinstate federal funding for gun violence research and provide the ATF with the resources to do their job in shutting down the 5% of rogue dealers who sell 90% of the crime guns.”
"Congresswoman Maloney's bold leadership against gun violence is further proof that we, as a nation, have reached a tipping point on this issue,” said Kim Russel, Regional Organizing Manager for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “The American people have had enough and we commend Rep. Maloney for carrying that momentum into Congress. The Brady Campaign is counting on legislators like Congresswoman Maloney to finish the job we started in 1994 by expanding Brady background checks to keep guns out of violent and dangerous hands."
Senator Brad Hoylman said: “The U.S. firearm homicide rate is 20 times higher than the next 22 developed nations combined. We’re exceptional in the recurrence of gun violence but have come to expect it as an inevitable part of American life. After the customary outpouring of grief the news cycle moves on from the latest tragedy and we’re left to lament the political cowardice that precludes any common-sense solutions. I’m grateful to Congresswoman Maloney for convening this forum, offering New York’s elected officials an important opportunity to listen to the concerns of the community and come together in the mutual desire of stamping out the scourge of gun violence.”
“How many times must we say ‘enough is enough’ before they actually hear us down in Washington?” said Senator Liz Krueger. “How many innocents have to be murdered before the right to live without fear trumps the NRA’s special interest money? Enjoying the rights and benefits of society requires us to take on certain responsibilities, and the Second Amendment makes it very clear that responsible regulation is an integral part of the right to bear arms. Letting the epidemic of gun violence spread out of control is nothing less than a dereliction of duty by many of our leaders in Washington. I thank Congresswoman Maloney for demonstrating what responsible leadership looks like by taking a stand against gun violence.”
"Gun violence has become the shame of this country, and we need to take action before more we lose more lives," said Council Member Dan Garodnick. "It is time for smart, sensible, and effective regulation that will keep guns out the hands of those who would use them to do harm. If now is not the time, when could possibly be the time? I applaud Congresswoman Maloney for her leadership on this issue."
"Thank you to Congress Member Carolyn Maloney for her national leadership addressing gun massacres as more than "stuff happens" with sensible solutions to finally put an end to gun violence," said Council Member Ben Kallos.
"Though we have made many gains in public safety in our city, unfortunately we are not exempt from the scourge of gun violence that continues to plague our nation,” said Council Member Margaret Chin. “I thank Congresswoman Maloney and other allies of sensible gun safety legislation for their perseverance in the struggle to protect all Americans from senseless acts of violence."
Congresswoman Maloney is a longtime gun-control advocate who has sponsored numerous gun safety measures and is currently lead sponsor of five gun violence prevention bills in Congress:
1. H.R. 2380: The Gun Show Loophole Closing Act of 2015
2. H.R. 2612: To authorize $10 million annually to fund gun violence public health research
3. H.R. 2613: Handgun Trigger Safety Act of 2015
4. H.R. 2546: Firearm Risk Protection Act of 2015
5. H.R. 3455: Gun Trafficking Prevention Act of 2015
The Gun Trafficking Prevention Act would boost penalties for straw purchasers and give prosecutors tools to go after trafficking rings that bring illegal guns to our cities. The Firearm Safety and Public Health Research Act would provide funding to research gun violence as a public health issue. The Gun Show Loophole Closing Act would subject all gun sales at gun shows to background checks. The Firearm Risk Protection Act would require liability insurance coverage for gun owners. The Handgun Trigger Safety Act would improve gun safety by ensuring that only authorized users would be able to operate handguns utilizing personalization (or “smart gun”) technology.