The steady public pressure to keep the “better gun laws” conversation alive has been effective. On April 20th there was another school walkout to protest gun violence in honor of the anniversary of the Columbine school shooting.
There has been a regular event on a weekly or biweekly basis to keep the topic in the news. Two weeks after the huge March for Our Lives, Congresswomen Nydia Velázquez and Carolyn Maloney held a Town Hall for Our Lives at MS 50 on April 7th. This was one of 147 town halls that took place on that day across the country. The congresswomen assembled a panel with representatives from New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and Los Sures. Public Advocate Letitia James was in the audience and spoke.
“Our communities have suffered from gun violence for far too long and we are finally saying Enough is Enough,” said Kayla a local high school student.
“On average 96 Americans are killed each day, seven of them are children. I’ve been battling gun violence since I was first elected in 1972,” said Velázquez
“I’m a proud F student of the NRA,” said Maloney. “We, Nydia and myself, are working everyday for common sense gun safety legislation. Today I feel we are really going to bring change.”
Local alumni of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School were in the audience. They number 11,000 countrywide, and there are anywhere from two to five hundred in the city.
Juan Ramos, Executive Director of Los Sures, brought a slightly different perspective to the forum, “I’m here today as an activist. I’m here today as an advocate. But I’m also here as one of those people that was a problem. I carried a gun. I brought that gun into the community. It took a community and activists to say: No More,” which turned his life around. He went on, “Within eight blocks of where we are today, we lost 40 young men to gun violence in the past year. Locally we have a problem. The AR-15 isn’t the only problem.” He mentioned his weapons of choice were: 32 automatics, 22 automatics, rifles. “To us the experience of gun violence is much different. We experience gun violence not only between ourselves but by those trained to use guns.”
Gun violence has multiple facets, and previously after a tragedy there wasn’t a coming together of the different perspectives. The pro gun control side has its distinct factions, but there seems to be a better joining of forces this time around. Time will tell.