Gun Violence Prevention Groups Promote Coalition Building

Congresswoman Nita Lowey:  Act Now Despite ‘Tumultous’ Political Climate

By Stacey Pfeffer

Chappaqua, NY— Several Westchester-based gun violence prevention (GVP) groups yesterday presented key action items that community members can take to reduce gun violence in light of the recent Presidential election.

Speaking at a forum held inside New Castle Town Hall, Congresswoman Nita Lowey, a long-time gun safety advocate, noted that despite a “tumultuous” political climate, it is our responsibility to act now – regardless of the politics – to spare families the pain that gun violence brings. I will continue working with local legislators and activists to stand up for what is right when it matters the most and keep guns out of the wrong hands.”

Inside New Castle Town Hall: Congresswoman Nita Lowey together with members of several Westchester-based gun violence prevention groups during a forum held on Saturday, Feb. 4.

Representatives and members from Million Mom March/Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Moms Demand Action, The Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence and Prevent Gun Violence Westchester were all in attendance. The event was sponsored by Up2US (an outgrowth of Chappaqua Friends of Hillary) and the New Castle Democratic Committee. Concerned citizenry from the UP2US group were in attendance as were Town Supervisor Robert Greenstein and Town Councilman Adam Brodsky. 

Jessica Meller, one of the leaders of Northern Westchester’s Million Mom March, noted that many of these groups collaborate on efforts and events together but this was the first time that the groups held a forum so that members could get “a clear picture of each group’s unique profile, goals and actions, and how we function both individually and as a coalition.”

Assemblyman David Buchwald (D-Mount Kisco) who attended commented that “it’s events like this that help galvanize people to action and to advocate for gun safety legislation.” Buchwald has been a strong advocate for gun safety and noted that Westchester has a gun safety storage law and he is one of the co-sponsors to support that bill so that it is adopted state-wide.

With 91 Americans killed everyday with guns (7 are children), Barry Graubart, the head of Westchester’s Moms Demand Action group noted how important it is to keep this issue front and center even when so many other progressive issues such as immigration and abortion are in peril. 

He explained that women are five times as likely to be shot when there is a gun present at home and that LGBT teens are four times as likely to commit suicide if a gun is available. He urged all in attendance to join Gun Sense Action Network, a group of over 200 gun sense activists from states across the country who spend a daytime hour each week reaching out to voters in battleground states and fighting for stronger gun laws in America. http://everytown.org/act/

While New Castle may seem immune to gun violence, there are areas of gun violence throughout the county. Mount Vernon had several shootings over the holiday period this year. Another particular area of concern for GVP groups locally is the Gun Show that was held two weeks ago at the Westchester County Center (WCC) in White Plains. The gun show was banned from the center for four years by County Executive Rob Astorino following the shootings in Newtown, CT but the ban was lifted this year. 

Prevent Gun Violence Westchester’s Chuck Bell stated community members can work to prevent the show returning next year to a county-owned building like the WCC. He urged those in attendance to call their legislators to override Astorino’s veto. “We also have no way of tracking how the firearms purchased at the show are used,” Bell noted.

Stacey Pfeffer is a frequent contributor to Inside Chappaqua and Inside Armonk. Her articles have also appeared in NY Family Magazine, Westchester Family Magazine, Westchester Parent and Kveller.com.

 

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