Editor’s note: This is an opinion piece written by independent authors Heather Hurley (Pearl River), Katherine O’Sullivan (Brewster) and Jeff Raderstrong (Sleepy Hollow) and does not necessarily represent the views of Nyack News & Views.
On a Saturday in the middle of May, nearly 300 people marched on the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge to send a clear message to our elected representatives: We are fed up.
May marked several painful one-year anniversaries: On Mother’s Day, 1 year since 10 people were killed and three wounded by a white supremacist in Buffalo, NY. On May 24, 1 year since 19 elementary school children and two teachers were murdered in Uvalde, TX.
Both of these mass shootings, and too many others, were carried out by individuals using an AR-15. And most of the deadliest mass shootings in this country–Las Vegas, Orlando, Aurora, Parkland, Sandy Hook–have all involved the use of assault weapons. Guns are now the leading cause of death for children, teens, and young adults in America.
We are fed up with wondering if our children and loved ones will be shot and killed as they go to school or the mall or the grocery store; if they ring the wrong doorbell or turn up the wrong driveway. Countless families are being ripped apart because of legal and easy access to assault weapons in America.
Enough is enough. We do not have to live like this.
Following Uvalde, Congressman Michael Lawler (R, NY-17) said: “It must end” and “We must rise to this moment and work together in a bipartisan fashion to prevent senseless tragedies like Uvalde and Parkland from occurring ever again.”
This year, after the shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville, which also involved the use of an AR-15, Rep. Lawler said that gun violence is “plaguing our society” and “Our nation is in crisis. We have a lot of work to do.”
We agree, Congressman Lawler. Gun violence is plaguing our society. Mass shootings in this country must end. We must work together – in a bipartisan fashion – to prevent senseless gun violence tragedies.
Assault weapons are weapons of war. They have no place on our streets. In 1994 Congress passed an assault weapons ban–with more than 50 Republicans in Congress voting in support. But in 2004 the gun lobby prevented the ban from being renewed. One 2019 study found that mass shooting fatalities were 70% less likely to occur when the federal ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines was in effect than during the 12 years studied before and after the ban.
We know that significant change is possible when our lawmakers join together in a truly bipartisan way to act in the interest of our safety rather than in the interest of the gun industry’s profits.
We need our lawmakers, including Congressman Lawler, to act with courage and urgency, not just for us, but for our children. Their lives are at stake.
Congressman Lawler, we urge you to prioritize passing bipartisan gun safety legislation including the reinstatement of a federal ban on assault weapons.
We and our children are counting on you.
Heather Hurley, Pearl River
Katherine O’Sullivan, Brewster
Jeff Raderstrong, Sleepy Hollow