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Queens Chronicle

Maloney talks gun legislation strategy

Congresswoman lays out the gains made and the obstacles remaining

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Posted: Thursday, August 29, 2019 10:30 am

How do dangerous people get their guns?

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn) posed that question last Sunday on Roosevelt Island at a gun safety town hall meeting co-sponsored by the group Moms Demand Action.

“The government has suppressed funding for gun violence research,” said Lorna Begg, a member of Moms Demand Action. Maloney is working closely with constituents and grassroots movements of Americans fighting for public safety measures to protect people from gun violence.

“We’ve been pushing for it, we need to pass it [in the Senate] and send it to Mitch McConnell, and the president, but the Republican leadership is literally killing people in our nation,” Maloney said.

Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-Kent.) is seen as essential to passing gun reform and has been accused of stalling it. On the internet he has gained the moniker #MassacreMitch since the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting in California, which left four dead and 13 injured.

“Sitting on his desk now is background checks, closing the gun show loophole, ban on assault weapons and killer magazines, raising the age to who gets these guns to at least 21,” Maloney said.

There have been 272 mass shootings in the nation in 2019, according to data from the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive (GVA), leaving residents at Sunday’s meeting to criticize inadequate firearms control, as New York City grapples with gun violence.

“Gun violence is an issue everywhere of course, but especially in places like Kansas where weapons can easily be accessed,” said Astoria resident Joseph Birchacek.

Birchacek, whose hometown of Hesston, Kan., was the backdrop of a 2016 spree shooting carried out by Cedric Larry Ford, killing three and leaving 14 injured using a Zastava Arms AK-47-style semiautomatic rifle and a Glock 22 semiautomatic pistol.

U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-Manhattan) has called the Democratic Judiciary Committee to convene Sept. 4 to consider three gun control bills to send more gun safety laws to McConnell’s desk.

With Rep. Peter King (R-Nassau, Suffolk) the first House Republican to back a bill banning assault weapons in the chamber, so-called red-flag and other gun control bills appear to be finally gaining momentum with the GOP in Congress.

Maloney said much of U.S. gun violence stems from hate crimes, and the NYPD reported that the city’s 30-percent uptick of homicides is from diverse gang activity.

Maloney, who sits on the U.S.-Japan Caucus, a bipartisan Congressional Member Organization, said that nations such as Japan have exceptionally low gun violence.

Giffords Law Center’s website states that over half a million firearms are stolen each year in the country, and many are subsequently sold illegally, though the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms official website states that straw purchases account for more illegal weapons.

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