The Remarks Of Speaker Sheldon Silver

New Yorkers Against Gun Violence Annual Legislative Day

Empire State Plaza, Well Of The Legislative Office Building, Albany, NY
Wednesday, April 29, 2009

{As Prepared For Delivery}

Speaker Silver addressed the New Yorkers Against Gun Violence Annual Legislative Day, crediting its members for speaking out on behalf of victims of gun violence and for its advocacy of reasonable gun control measures in New York State. Silver noted that the Assembly passed this week a legislative package of 13-bills aimed at keeping guns out the hands of criminals and keeping New Yorkers safe.
Thank you for that generous introduction and welcome, members of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence

Let me express my appreciation to each and every one of you for being here to speak up for all of the victims of gun violence who could not be here with us, and for all of the New York families who want more sensible gun control, but who could not come to their state capital to make their voices heard today.

I am proud to tell you that yesterday, the Assembly passed a 13-bill package of intelligent gun legislation that will make our communities safer, that will keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous felons, and that will help our law enforcement agencies combat gun trafficking.

On behalf of my colleagues in the Assembly Democratic Majority - we who have championed sensible gun control in this state for more than a decade - let me thank Jackie Hilly and the New Yorkers Against Gun Violence for working with us in crafting those important pieces of legislation. I hope that you appreciate Jackie's leadership as much as we do.

The recent gun violence in Binghamton that took the lives of 13 men and women and the marking of the tenth anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting reminds me of how fortunate I am never to have lost a son or a daughter or a grandchild to gun violence.

Some of you here this morning, I know, have not been so fortunate, and my heart - and the hearts of my Assembly Majority colleagues - go out to you. That you are here in Albany this morning to advocate for sensible gun control so that no parent has to endure what you are enduring, is human nature at its finest.

Still, with each massacre, we are left to wonder what it will take to put an end to gun violence.

The answer - our very best hope - is sitting in this audience in front of me.

Young people are the key to changing the culture of gun violence that permeates every corner of our state and our nation.

I know that the members of "REACTION" are here from Brooklyn's High School of Public Service. Let me hear from the entire Brooklyn contingent.

Let me hear from Manhattan. How about the Bronx? Where is Long Island?

How about Westchester? I understand that Niagara Falls is here, where are they?

Thank you - all of you - for your leadership and for your concern. I know that I speak for all New Yorkers when I say, we hope that you are very successful in your lobbying efforts today.

You will find that there are gun advocates in town today, so let me make the message crystal clear.

I am not advocating that the state take firearms away from licensed and law-abiding citizens.

At the same time, it is insane to sit back and accept that gun violence events such as those that occurred in Binghamton, at Virginia Tech, at Northern Illinois, at Columbine are a fact of life.

That is why, year after year, I and my Assembly Majority colleagues put forth a fair and comprehensive agenda of sensible gun-control legislation for that very reason. All we are asking for is a sensible gun policy; one that deters such massacres, one that prevents accidents, one that saves lives.

If and when you meet with those legislators who do not support our legislation (and you know who they are) ask them:

What will it take to make these bills law this year? What will it take to reduce the likelihood that another child will accidentally shoot himself? What will it take to deter a gunman from attacking one of our college campuses?

If they are willing to meet with you, if they give you a real answer, pass it along to us, because we are willing to do everything in our power to prevent gun violence throughout the State of New York.

New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, again, thank you for being here. Thank you for being the leaders that you are and for being the strong partners that we need.

The bills that we passed yesterday, we passed in your honor and in the memory of the countless New Yorkers whose lives were cut short by gun violence.

I know you won't give up. I assure you, neither will we.