Schimel Talks Gun Battle

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From left: Lois Schaffer, Michelle Schimel and Aaron Watkins-Lopez, moderator.
From left: Lois Schaffer, Michelle Schimel and Aaron Watkins-Lopez, moderator.

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.

Attendees view a Mother’s Dream Quilt
Attendees view a Mother’s Dream Quilt

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.”

1 COMMENT

  1. There is strong evidence that Child Access Prevention (CAP) Laws can reduce the number of children killed or injured in unintentional shootings and significantly reduce youth suicides. CAP laws make gun owners, whose unsecured guns result in harm, subject to criminal liability.

    Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have some form of safe storage law. Many people may be surprised to learn that New York, a state with relatively strong gun safety laws, does not have a Child Access Prevention law. Even Texas and Florida have CAP laws.

    That’s why New Yorkers Against Gun Violence is advocating for Nicholas’ Law (A.53/S.2291), named for Nicholas Naumkin. The law would require guns not in the immediate possession of the owner to be stored in a safe or other secure container with a locking device, to prevent access by children. Gun owners who fail to comply will be subject to criminal liability ranging from a violation to a felony, depending on the harm that results.

    The New York State Coalition to Prevent Child Access to Guns is calling for the enactment of Nicholas’ Law and has over fifty member organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the NY State Nurses Association, the NY State PTA, the League of Women Voters, and the NY State Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

    New York must do everything it can to protect children from the dangers of unsecured guns in the home. Sign the petition for Nicholas’ Law at http://www.nyagv.org. Your organization can join the NY State Coalition to Prevent Child Access to Guns by emailing nyagv@nyagv.org

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