One week after the deadliest mass shooting in our country’s history, the U.S. Senate voted down all four proposed measures aimed at curbing suspected terrorists’ legal access to guns, with none of them surpassing the required 60-vote threshold for enactment. Two of the proposals came from Democrats and two came from Republicans, all focused on either expanding the background-check system or delaying sales of weapons to individuals on a government watch list.
Despite bipartisan sponsorship, votes ultimately fell largely along national party lines. Locally, Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand (both Democrats) voted in favor of the failed legislation, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that all of New York State government would have fallen in line.
We sifted through social-media feeds, recent news headlines, press releases et al to gauge how a cross-section of regional officials representing Westchester and the Hudson Valley has landed on this thorny issue. And not everyone conforms to what you’d expect.
- Senator Gillibrand took to Twitter last night and vocalized her outrage towards the Senate’s inability “to make any progress toward making our communities safer.” She railed that, “Even after yet another massacre of innocent men & women, we still lack the political will to stand up to the gun lobby and protect Americans.”
- Senator Schumer likewise tweeted, “It’s hard to believe that our GOP colleagues voted to allow suspected terrorists to buy guns.”
- After the Supreme Court refused to hear legal challenge to the SAFE act yesterday, Governor Cuomo released a statement announcing their decision as a “victory for common sense gun-control laws in New York and across the nation.”
- Last week, Republican Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin—who represents Columbia County—went against conventional party rhetoric and told the Daily News it was “crazy” that the Senate hasn’t approved a bill requiring those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence abuse to surrender their firearms.
- Democratic Assemblywoman Amy Paulin of Westchester was in step with McLaughlin, having hoped that the Orlando shooter’s alleged history of domestic abuse “would be a boost to any reasonable gun control measure, including this bill.”
- This past June, Republican State Senator Kathy Marchione backed several reforms that would loosen restrictions imposed by the Governor Cuomo-enacted Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act, such as repealing the ammunition database and allowing New Yorkers to inherit a semi-automatic rifle owned by a family member. “I am proud to have opposed the unconstitutional SAFE Act from day one,” Marchione said at the time. “I will…keep working to chip away at its provisions until every law-abiding gun owner in New York State can…fully exercise their Second Amendment freedoms.”
- U.S. Congressman Chris Gibson—who represents constituents across Columbia, Sullivan, Dutchess, Ulster, Greene, and Columbia counties—was equally adamant about protesting the SAFE act. As reported by the Daily Freeman in 2013, Gibson referred to the legislation as a “huge mistake” while appearing at a Catskill town Q&A dubbed “Hudson Valley Americans for Freedom.” And as recently as last December, he declared to the Times Union that, “The knee-jerk reaction for gun control has never delivered, and it won’t deliver.”
- Democratic Congresswoman Nita Lowey—who represents central and Northwestern Westchester as well as all of Rockland County—urged fellow politicians to take action on gun control in advance of last night’s Senate convening, remarking at a rally in White Plains that, “We’re tired of these moments of silence. It is time to act” and urging “comprehensive action now.”
- When an Ulster County sheriff encouraged licensed firearm owners to carry a weapon in the wake of last year’s San Bernardino mass shooting, Roger Rascoe, chairman of the Ulster County Republican Committee, assured the Wall Street Journal, “I’m fully supportive of what the sheriff said. If someone has a legal right to carry a weapon, it’s better to have them armed in those situations than not.”
Did our Senate drop the ball or uphold Constitutional duty? We certainly invite your comments, whether beneath this roundup and/or via Westchester magazine’s Twitter feed or Facebook page or Hudson Valley magazine’s Twitter or Facebook. And for information on how to support the survivors and victim’s loved ones of Orlando’s tragic shooting, visit #WeAreOrlando.