Late last month, New York State Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel (D-Great Neck), who represents the Roslyn area in Albany, attended a panel on gun sense at Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock.
Panelists addressed the need for stronger federal and state gun laws to combat the epidemic of gun violence facing the nation. Panelists included Leah Gunn Barrett, executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence (NYAGV); June Rubin, founding member of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America (MDA); Lois Schaffer, author and human rights advocate and Schimel, a member of American State Legislators For Gun Violence Prevention (ASLGVP) and co-chair of State Legislators Against Illegal Guns and board member of NYAGV.
Members of the panel stressed the importance of categorizing gun violence as a threat to public health and noted that firearms are the only consumer product not regulated at a federal level. Gunn Barrett and Rubin remarked that New York is one of 22 states without a form of child access prevention law. According to NYAGV, the presence of unlocked guns in the home increases the risk of accidental gun injuries, intentional shootings and suicides.
Through the MDA, Rubin organizes the “Mother’s Dream Quilt Project” where clothing or fabric owned by a gun victim is patched together as a quilt. When completed, the quilt symbolizes the human toll of gun violence in America. A quilt was on display during the program and Rubin noted that 13 other quilt requests are currently in the MDA’s queue.
Schimel attested to successes to battling gun violence at the state level by recounting provisions of the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act (SAFE), which was debated and passed by the New York State Legislature on Jan. 15, 2013. At the end of the day, Schimel proclaimed, “the fight for safe gun control policies will be a political one.”