WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- U.S. Rep. Nita M. Lowey was joined by local elected officials, law enforcement and advocates for gay rights and crime prevention during a Friday press conference to call on Congress to pass tougher gun control laws.
Lowey, a Democrat representing Westchester and Rockland counties, said, “Despite mass shooting after mass shooting, the Republican majority in Congress refuses to act on commonsense gun safety measures, even when the majority of Americans support those policies."
“We grieve with the families who have lost loved ones to gun violence,'' Lowey said while noting one of the 49 victim's of Sunday's deadliest U.S. mass shooting in Orlando, Fla., included Ramapo native Shane Tomlinson.
White Plains Mayor Tom Roach said, “The terrorist who perpetrated this horrific crime of hate should never have had access to a gun."
Nyack Village Mayor Jen Laird White said, "I continue to thank Congresswoman Lowey for never wavering in this fight but, rather, becoming more resolute that change must happen.”
White Plains Public Safety Commissioner David Chong also attended the press conference outside the White Plains Public Safety Department, saying, "Our hearts go out to the victims. Our hearts go out to the first responders who have to face this mess."
Lowey said Congress should act immediately to stem the gun violence epidemic in our country by passing three critical policies:
-- The “NoFlyNoBuy” provision could bar suspected terrorists, including those banned from boarding airplanes, from legally purchasing guns.
-- Universal background checks would close the gaping loophole that allows gun sales by “private sellers” without background checks, which is exploited by those who know they couldn’t get guns from licensed gun dealers who are required to conduct background checks.
-- Reinstatement of the ban on military style assault rifles would stop the sale of the weapons of war used to kill hundreds of innocent people in most of the mass shootings in recent years, including in Orlando, Newtown, Aurora, Rosenberg and San Bernardino, Calif.
Lowey noted that 43,000 hate crimes between 2010 and 2014 were committed with guns.
Scott Havelka, director of Programs and Services of The Loft: LGBT Community Services Center in White Plains, said, "As community center leaders, we see the vast work that remains to eliminate homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, racism, and many other forms of bigotry from our communities; after Sunday, what is visible every day to us has now become clear to all. . . . Now, we have a cause in common."
Alexandra Dubroff, Hudson Valley Coordinator of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, said that when she learned 49 people were killed and 53 others wounded in Sunday's Orlando shooting, "I was physically ill, but sadly still not shocked."