With Feb. 14 drawing near and marking the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. that left 17 dead, the nation’s legislators, students, parents and activists continue to fight for stricter gun policies.
On Saturday, locals kept the conversation on gun safety going with a discussion and rally at Oceanside Library. Kaminksy hosted the event, “More Than a Moment,” as a follow-up to “Town Hall for Our Lives,” which he hosted last April to address concerns on school safety in the wake of increased gun violence nationwide.
Roughly 150 people attended the event, including parents, students, educators, gun safety advocates and pro-Second amendment constituents. Assemblywoman Judy Griffin and Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder were also in attendance, along with Linda Beigel Schulman, the mother of Parkland victim Scott Beigel.
“Over the last year, there’s been such grassroots activism that I’ve never seen an issue galvanize before,” Kaminsky said. “We’ve seen such frustration among parents and students that school shootings keep happening and we’re going to help change that.”
Kaminsky cited three bills, which passed in the Senate two days later on Jan. 29, including a law he proposed that prohibits arming teachers in classrooms. The federal government has suggested arming teachers as a solution to school gun violence, a measure that Kaminsky called “dangerous and unhelpful.”
“In today’s day and age, the safety of our schoolchildren is at risk and we need to do something about it,” Kaminsky said. “New Yorkers have been waiting for their leaders to protect their schools and with the inaction in Washington, we must do more to keep our classrooms safe and halt misguided and reckless proposals like arming classroom teachers.”
The other bills are the “red flag law,” which allows police to confiscate guns from a person who law enforcement or school officials believe could pose a threat, and a law that extends the time period for background checks if a gun buyer does not immediately pass one.
Griffin has also been an advocate of increased gun laws. “It is vital that we enact common-sense gun safety legislation in New York state to keep our communities and schools safe,” she said.
Many community members agreed and appeared moved by speeches from students, including Valley Stream Central High School student Aman Islam, 16, and parents like Schulman.
“We must let teachers teach,” she said. “Senator Todd Kaminsky’s proposed legislation will do just that. Teachers should not be armed — let’s leave that for our trained law enforcement.”