The Island Now: Stop Running from Gun Safety (Op-Ed by Brad Schwartz)

(Link to original article)

State Sen. Elaine Phillips has through her limited time in office, proven herself to be the sitting senator who refuses to stand up. Recently, this included her unwillingness to support the Child Victims Act, which would grant extended legal rights to victims of childhood sexual abuse. 

Now, among the national debate over gun violence in schools, Phillips has again failed to stand up for the protection of children. In fact, she is literally running away from the issue.

As reported this week by the NY Post:

“Long Island Republican rookie Sen. Elaine Phillips — who won her seat by 2 percentage points in 2016 — twice fled from a reporter attempting to ask her position on gun control Tuesday.”

As the declared Democratic candidate running against Sen. Phillips, I believe in confronting the epidemic of gun violence head-on. Recently, I signed the No NRA Money Pledge and discussed the issue with local high school students who are rightly alarmed and striving to take real action. While my opponent dodged one of the most important issues facing the safety of our nation, brave kids all over the country are fighting back against the NRA and Republican leaders that walk lock step with them.

You either stand with the kids and on the side of public and school safety, with our first responders and for sensible gun measures, or you stand with unfettered access to military weapons that do not belong anywhere remotely near civilians and children.

Ironically in the direct aftermath of Parkland, Sen. Phillips posted this statement to her official Senate webpage: “My colleagues and I in the Senate Republican Majority are working tirelessly on a comprehensive school safety plan… I will leave the politics of this issue to others.”

The statement is strikingly hypocritical when it is precisely politics that Sen. Phillips is playing.

There have been 290 shootings on school campuses in the United States since Sandy Hook. Yet after each tragedy, politicians like Elaine Phillips substitute desperately needed gun safety reform, with empty statements – and then run away from the issue entirely. That Sen. Phillips actually ran away this time, is a testament to how endemic this political problem has become:

No politician should be more afraid of the gun lobby, than losing more of our children to guns.

That is why state Senate Democrats are refusing to back down in the face of Republican obstructionism. They have proposed four common sense Gun Safety measures that I support: including improving background checks, banning bump stocks, allowing courts to temporarily remove a disturbed persons guns and establishing a research institute to study gun violence. The latter proposal has a meaningful reason to be implemented at the state level. Since 1996, The Dickey Amendment has prohibited the CDC from federal funds to study gun violence.

So, wherein the federal government refuses to permit preventative research to protect its citizens, the role of responsibility falls to the State to ensure the safety and well-being of our residents. Which is why it’s as important as ever for Albany to act on Gun Safety. That means holding our elected officials accountable and letting them know that they can no longer run away from this.

Brad Schwartz

Democratic Candidate for NY State Senate’s 7th District

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More articles including Schwartz's Stance for Gun Safety

The Island Now: Students Across the North Shore Walkout in Solidarity with Parkland 

The students at Roslyn High School, who gathered in the gymnasium Wednesday morning to honor the victims, are already getting the attention of a political candidate for their efforts. Brad Schwartz, the Democrat running for state Senate in District 7, visited his alma mater on Wednesday morning in solidarity with the students. “These young people are an example to our country on how to take action and inspire lasting commitment to change when adults in government have failed,” Schwartz said in a statement. Schwartz also said he was struck by the high level of security installed that differed from what was there when he attended two decades ago. “Kids no longer have the open sense of safety my peers and I enjoyed,” Schwartz said. “Children deserve that.” Schwartz has previously signed the No NRA Money Pledge and supports gun control measures approved by the Assembly that have yet to be voted on in the state Senate.

The Island Now: North Shore Residents March for Their Lives Against Gun Violence:

Port Washington resident and state senate Democratic candidate Brad Schwartz, who attended the march, said that while calls for action in the past have come and gone, the concerned voices are growing louder since the Parkland, Florida, school shooting. “The difference this time is that the March for Our Lives movement is led by students who are unafraid of the NRA and undeterred by seemingly insurmountable political roadblocks,” Schwartz said. “I see in their plight, a generation of youth harnessing the traditional power of Democracy with modern spirit and maturity. I marched today in solidarity with the brighter future they offer America. And I marched, because I want our children to be safe — even while they serve as the better example to our nation.”

The Island Now: Phillips Slammed for Statement Supporting Gun Control Measures One Week After Sabotaging Them  

Phillips' initial hesitance to support the gun control efforts brought a backlash from many constituents, who questioned her ability to form her own stances on issues. Charles Maass, a Manhasset resident said “if Elaine Phillips will not break with her party on this important issue, will she ever stand up for her constituents?”

Brad Schwartz, a Port Washington resident who is seeking the Democratic nomination to face Phillips next November, said in a letter to the editor for Blank Slate Media that he believes in confronting gun violence head on and signed the No NRA Money pledge. Phillips has “proven herself to be the sitting senator who refuses to stand up.” Schwartz said. 

The hypocrisy of Elaine Phillips is striking. You either stand with the kids and on the side of public and school safety, with our first responders and for sensible gun measures; or you stand for unfettered access to military weapons that do not belong anywhere in civilian society,” Schwartz said. "It's an insult to constituents that Sen. Phillips killed common sense gun control proposals in the state senate, and then turned around in district one week later claiming to support them. That is a degrading disregard for voters intellignece."