More than 150 people, including representatives from Long Island, several activist groups and community members came together to rally against gun violence on Aug. 7, at Haypath Park in Old Bethpage.
The event, Call to Action to End Gun Violence, was hosted by State Senators Anna M. Kaplan, Jim Gaughran, Kevin Thomas and Monica R. Martinez, as well as Together We Will Long Island, Long Islanders for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action NY. The rally was in response to the deadly mass shootings that took place across the country over the past several weeks, including the latest instances in El Paso and Dayton, which left at least 31 people dead.
As of 2019, there have been 254 mass shootings in the U.S., according to data from the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive (GVA). This shows that there has been an average of more than one mass shooting a day.
“Our country is facing an epidemic of senseless gun violence,” Gaughran, who works with the Plainview community, said. “This year, New York led the way by passing common sense gun reforms to protect our children and the public, including a red flag law, expanded background checks and safe storage laws. Now, Washington must step up and follow our lead.”
In an effort to raise awareness of the importance of ending gun violence in America, the groups that hosted the rally invite Long Islanders to listen to activists, victims of gun violence, faith leaders and elected officials as they call on the federal government to act on common sense gun reform.
“Our children have a right to grow up in safe neighborhoods,” Thomas, who represents Old Bethpage, said. “We don’t have to accept this deadly status quo. As lawmakers, we have a responsibility to enact common sense policies that will protect our communities from gun violence.”
Rachel Klein, founder of Long Islanders for Gun Safety, shared that her organization’s mission is to pass common sense gun legislation and generally make the world a better and safer place.
“We decided to co-sponsor the rally because when you go to sleep worrying about one mass shooting and wake up to news of another, you realize enough is enough,” Klein said. “As we send our kids off to school, worried about lockdown drills and active shooters, I want people in the community to know that life doesn’t have to be this way.”
Speakers at the rally included Sergio Argueta from STRONG Youth, Inc., Heath Broughton from Man in the Mirror, Eve Krief from the American Academy of Pediatrics, David Kilmnick from the LGBT Network, Rabbi Jenn Weinstein of Congregation Simchat HaLev of Syosset and U.S. Congressman Tom Suozzi.
“We don’t have to accept this as our new normal,” Klein said. “We can rally together with members of the community, elected officials, faith leaders, advocates, and activists and demand change.”