Southampton Rally Remembers Sandy Hook Victims, Protests Lack of Federal Legislation a Year After Tragedy

Posted on 18 December 2013

Gun control advocates in front of Congressman Tim Bishop's Southampton office at Sandy Hook Remembrance Rally Saturday.

Gun control advocates in front of Congressman Tim Bishop’s Southampton office at Sandy Hook Remembrance Rally Saturday. (Tessa Raebeck photo).

By Tessa Raebeck

A year after the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut took the lives of 20 first graders and six school employees, New York State has some of the toughest laws on gun control in the country.

But with no legislative action yet taken on the federal level, groups advocating for gun control are continuing their fight for safety laws.

Chanting “We will not forget!” members of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, States United Against Gun Violence and Organizing for Action, an advocacy group supporting President Obama’s legislative agenda, held a Sandy Hook Remembrance Rally outside Congressman Tim Bishop’s Southampton office Saturday afternoon.

Decked in hats, gloves and posters, a group of 17 advocates for gun control braved the snow to honor the victims, survivors and families of the Sandy Hook tragedy, commemorate the actions of Governor Andrew Cuomo and Congressman Bishop in the past year and call on legislators — particularly at the federal level — to do more.

Sue Hornik from States United Against Gun Violence and Sag Harbor’s Jackie Hilly, of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, spoke at the rally. They called for closing background check “loopholes,” banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, making schools safer and increasing access to mental health services.

“While sadness can be unbearable,” Hilly told the crowd, “it should also serve to embolden us to speak out against gun violence.”

The event marked the one-year anniversary of the school shooting at Sandy Hook. After Hilly and Hornik spoke, those in attendance read the names of the 26 victims, along with personal anecdotes, and rang a bell after each reading.

Ann Howard from Cutchogue read the name of Dylan Hockley, a six-year-old killed in his classroom who had “beautiful eyes and a mischievous grin” and “a love of bouncing on trampolines.”

Hilly thanked Governor Cuomo for making New York the first state to take decisive action after Newtown. The AR-15, the assault weapon used at Sandy Hook, can no longer legally be purchased in New York. Banning such weapons was one of the provisions of the New York SAFE Act, which was proposed by Governor Cuomo and adopted by the state legislature in January, less than a month after the tragedy.

“Now with the new regulations that were adopted in New York State,” explained Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr., “if we don’t have the most stringent gun control measures, we’re in the top two.”

State Senator Kenneth LaValle agreed New York has some of the strongest gun control laws in the nation.

“Right after Sandy Hook I think there was a sense of purpose, because young people were killed — senseless murder — in an elementary school by an individual who had mental health issues,” said LaValle, “ and indeed in every one of these mass shootings, the shooter has a mental health issue.”RaebeckSandyHookRally2

The SAFE Act established provisions to help identify individuals with mental illnesses and correlate reporting of such illnesses with reporting of firearm ownership. Under the new law, a gun owner living with someone who has been diagnosed with a mental illness has a responsibility to make sure his or her guns are not available to that person.

“That’s kind of a good balancing, we believe, between rights and responsibilities,” said Hilly, “because you know, the other side is always talking about rights and rarely are they mentioning responsibilities.”

Additionally, mental health professionals are now required by law to alert police if they believe one of their patients is likely to hurt themselves or others — and that patient has a gun permit.

The SAFE Act also standardized the time period for renewal of permits across the state. Previously, Long Island and Westchester required gun owners to renew their permits every five years and New York City had a three-year requirement. Now, all of New York — including areas upstate that required renewal less frequently — has a maximum five-year permit renewal requirement (New York City can keep their three-year restriction). This sanction requires permit holders to reaffirm the facts of their permit, for example that they have not been convicted of a felony or diagnosed with a mental illness.

The SAFE Act enhanced the breadth and prevalence of background checks, limited the capacity of magazines from 10 rounds to seven and expanded the definition of assault weapons, such as the AR-15.

The law also aims to end the anonymous purchasing of large stocks of ammunition on the Internet. Rather than going online and having weapons delivered to your home with no regulation, ammunition must now be delivered to a gun dealer, who will then ask for identification (a permit is not required for ammunition).

Although the SAFE Act is a huge victory for gun control advocates, proponents say the state measures are limited by the lack of similar federal legislation. Although criminals are faced with these restrictions in New York, they can easily travel across state lines to purchase weapons and ammunition.

Since Sandy Hook, according to Congressman Bishop, on the federal level, “the short answer is nothing has happened.”

Of a number of bills introduced in the House of Representatives to help provide for gun safety, “none of them have moved at all,” said Bishop, who sponsored most of them.

In the Senate, an effort to bring up a bipartisan bill to expand background checks for people who wish to purchase firearms failed to garner the 60 votes necessary for it to be considered.

“You can still go on the Internet and buy firearms,” Bishop said Monday, “you can still go on the Internet and buy mass quantities of ammunition, you can still purchase a gun at a gun show without undergoing a background check, so basic things that ought to be put in place are not being put in place.”

“It pretty much breaks down on party lines,” added the Democratic congressman, “Democrats want to pass gun safety legislation, Republicans refuse to.”

Bishop said much of the proposed legislation has bipartisan support, “but the leadership of the House of Representatives refuses to move any of them.”

“I don’t want to say that there’s no hope,” he said, “but I do think that the track record of the house thus far does not give cause for optimism.”

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- who has written 453 posts on The Sag Harbor Express.

Contributing Writer and Education Reporter for the Sag Harbor Express. Twitter: @TessaRaebeck

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10 Responses to “Southampton Rally Remembers Sandy Hook Victims, Protests Lack of Federal Legislation a Year After Tragedy”

  1. Seth says:

    The so called “gun show loophole” does not exist. At every gun show you MUST undergo a background check to purchase a firearm from an FFL. The only “loophole” that exists is a legal private sale, which is not very common, but it still goes on in states where it is legal. Sandy Hook would not have been prevented with more “gun control” laws. Those weapons were legally owned and the shooter used unlawful and violent means to get them. There was no armed security at the school so it created the perfect place for him to go in unchallenged. “Gun free zones” are criminal opportunity zones. The recent shooting at Arapahoe High School was stopped by a sheriff’s deputy who was on site (gun owner). He stopped the shooting, not a gun free zone sign. Over the past 10 years crime has gone down drastically and gun sales up drastically, that’s from the FBI crime stats. More legal gun owners means less crime because we can fight the bad guys right away rather than having victims and a police chase. Choose your own beliefs, though.

  2. gjdagis says:

    It is very disconcerting how illogical these people really are. None of the federal legislation that they are referring to would have done anything to prevent what happened in Newtown or in any of the other recent shootings (the last few years). In addition, the so called “background check” is ultimately a registration scheme which is the precursor to gun confiscation. Of course, the gun banners know this and the illogical people in this article simply don’t have a clue and wouldn’t care if they did.

  3. Mark says:

    Oh look, they’re still dancing on the graves of our children to push their agenda. How nice!

  4. Jonathan says:

    sandy hook is yet one more fraud on a long list of staged drills. psychological warfare is being waged on the people through the propaganda boxes. so many more know this to be true but are such cowards because they fear the repercussions of the asleep lemmings wrath.

  5. Mike Anthony says:

    Seth, the recent issue of Harper’s reports that the, “Estimated number of federally licensed U.S. gun dealers and pawnbrokers that sell firearms illegally: 1,719.”

  6. Joyce says:

    Seth: If I can help save just one life, you’re damn straight I’m going to rally for reform. 6 months after Newtown, there were 5000 more gun deaths in the country.
    Mark: Is Erica Lafferty, daughter of the slain Sandy Hook principal, “dancing” on her grave as outreach for Mayors Against Illegal Guns? Are Jimmy and Nelba Marquez-Greene, parents of 6 yr old Ana,and 7 yr old Daniel’s parents Mark and Jackie Barden, doing the same when they do interviews, and go to Washington to push for stricter gun laws?
    gjdagis: “illogical”? If a shooter only has limited capacity, it might SAVE A LIFE. If you cannot anonymously purchase stocks of ammunition online and have it delivered to your home,it might SAVE A LIFE. See the pattern here?
    Jonathan: ?????
    Legal gun owners who use them responsibly have nothing to fear from these laws. We read aloud the names and memories of each victim, we highlighted the need for common sense reform…..what did you all do?

  7. Anne says:

    Growing up in Northern Ireland in the midst of the ‘Troubles’ I dreamed of a ‘normal’ life: a life that didn’t involve the constant risk of being blown up or shot dead because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I thought I had left those days behind. It doesn’t feel like it when Americans are being shot on a daily basis for being in wrong place at the wrong time. The IRA had a cause, whatever one thinks of their method. What is the cause that the innocent children at Sandy Hook had to die for? This society’s addiction to guns.

    I believed then and I believe now that no cause is worth the sacrifice of human life. Let’s stop this madness.

  8. Jonathan says:

    Joyce – do some homework. it wont take you long to realize this was a giant hoax. it’s painfully obvious to those who have escaped the media / industrial complex. stop buying into all these myths propagated by the propaganda lords.

  9. E.M. MAXX says:

    Ok I’m lost what exactly is the “hoax” ?

  10. LI Duck says:

    The “hoax” being the shooting did not really go down, or went down in a way never made public. Most popular is that it was only a drill, or drill gone wrong, or that Lanza was just a patsy and the shooting was conducted by some covert gov’t group. Any number of theories.

    My favorite as told to me my someone who lives in Sandy Hook is that Adam Lanza felt that principal Dawn Hochsprung was the one responsible for the divorce of his mother and father, and he was getting revenge.

    Bottom line, Firearms have to be kept out of the hands of the mentally ill.


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