Hundreds rallied Sunday to demand improved gun safety and warned public officials of the electoral consequences for those didn’t listen.
Local relatives of two people murdered Feb. 14 in the Parkland school mass killing described the fear and pain of losing their loved ones. Several high school and college students who are working to improve safety at schools and other public locations spoke, many saying that older generations had let them down.
Several speakers at the rally at Breezy Park in Huntington Station also urged the reining in of the influence of the National Rifle Association on political affairs.
Paul Guttenberg of Commack, whose niece Jamie Guttenberg was one of the 17 Parkland victims, said, “A 19-year-old has no reason to have an AR-15–an AR-15 is a weapon of war.
“To those under 21, you need to vote. Call legislators and tell them, ‘If you accept NRA money, we will vote you out of office’.
“This is a national tragedy, but for our family, it is a personal tragedy.”
U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi said, “We need the youth movement to tackle guns but also climate change and healthcare,” he said. “I hear students saying, ‘Where would I hide?’ (if a gunman attacked a school.) We don’t want schools to be prisons, for kids to live in fear.” He cited his own “F” grade from the NRA as a point of pride. “There’s something wrong with people who say that the solution to guns is more guns.”
Numerous speakers referred to “vote Orange,” the color gun control advocates wear to promote the cause.
Lucy Peters, 17, a cousin of Scott Beigel, described the wait for confirmation that he had been killed, and concluded with, “Vote Orange so no one else has to go through what my family did.”
The slain teacher’s mother, Linda Beigel Schulman, also spoke, describing how the teacher had first protected his students before he was shot to death. “He was shot 6 times in 3 seconds from 5 feet away,” she said. “He was supposed to take care of students and he did. He left this world unaware of the legacy he would leave behind.
“Our lives will never be the same.
“Thoughts and prayers won’t prevent mass shootings: Columbine, Aurora, Las Vegas, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Santa Fe–these are easy words falling from the lips of politicians afraid of the NRA.”
Referring to Nikolas Cruz, the accused Parkland killer, Schulman noted that he was legally able to buy a rifle but wasn’t old enough to buy a beer.
On Twitter, Suozzi’s GOP opponent in the Congressional Third District race, Dan DeBnono, wrote, “Voters are tired of
#hypocrites. In February @RepTomSuozzi locked arms and wrote op-eds with hawk @RepPeteKing. In March Suozzi embraced 2nd Amendment to fight @realDonaldTrump; in June Suozzi silent on fellow inciter @RepMaxineWaters; Now Suozzi marches against 2A w/David Hogg.”
Several local elected officials participated in the rally, including Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, who spoke from the stage, Assemblyman Steve Stern, Receiver of Taxes Jillian Guthman, Legislator William “Doc” Spencer, State Senate candidate Jim Gaughran and Nassau Legislator Josh Lafazan.