Dear Neighbors & Friends,
An enormous amount of human suffering has been caused by the tragic shooting in Las Vegas. My heart aches for the victims of this senseless shooting, and for their loved ones. I am grateful for law enforcement, medical personnel and concert goers who responded heroically. Las Vegas marks the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history and follows all too closely on the heels of the second-largest mass shooting at the PULSE nightclub in Orlando in June 2016.
Even as we grieve, we must act decisively to prevent gun violence. Gun violence on this level is a uniquely American tragedy and so we must work together for sensible gun laws that keep each other safe.
First, Congress must act to strengthen federal gun laws. If Congress had reauthorized the assault weapons ban in 2004, thousands of victims could be alive today. Gun violence is quite simply a public health crisis. While other major health and safety concerns such as motor vehicle accidents, heart disease, and tobacco have rightly received expanded research, far too little research has been conducted on firearm violence. The late Congressman Jay Dickey regretted his amendment prohibiting funding for gun violence research and later promoted its repeal. It is essential that Congress repeal the Dickey Amendment.
We must keep guns out of the hands of people when there’s legitimate reason to believe they can do harm to others. The survivors of the Las Vegas shooting and others were able to run to safety because they could hear gun shots, so we must not allow Congress to deregulate silencers.
New York State has worked hard to prevent gun violence, but we still need to close troubling gaps in the law. We are fortunate to have increased regulations on sales and possession, and successful restrictions on assault weapons. I sponsor a bill (A2977/S4363) to create a research institute to examine the causes and impacts of firearm violence and provide scientific evidence on which to base effective prevention efforts. Senator Roxanne Persaud and I also sponsor a bill (A1215) to limit the sales of ammunition purchases for use in assault weapons to prevent its stockpiling.
Our ability to come together and help one another in the darkest of times is one of our greatest strengths. Groups that organize to prevent gun violence include Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, the Brady Campaign, and Gays Against Guns. Now more than ever, they need supporters and volunteers.
Read my op-ed on the need for a firearms research institute here: http://www.timesunion.com/tuplus-opinion/article/State-can-take-lead-in-research-to-prevent-gun-11130475.php
Jo Anne Simon