Local Democratic State Senate candidates warned Friday that Republicans in the Senate will block and weaken anti-gun violence legislation if they retain their majority after the Nov. 6 elections.
At a news conference in Mineola, two Democrats urged Long Islanders to vote for Democratic Senate candidates to help the party gain control of the chamber. If their party were in the majority, the state soon would enact "common-sense" laws to get guns out of the hands of people who mental health experts believe are a danger to themselves or others, the Democrats said.
Republicans have a 32-31 majority in the Senate.
North Hempstead Town Council member Anna Kaplan, who is challenging freshman Sen. Elaine Phillips (R-Flower Hill) in the 7th District, said the killings at a Pittsburgh synagogue demonstrate why New York needs stronger gun safety laws, such as the Red Flag Gun Protection Bill.
Kaplan, James Gaughran, who is challenging GOP Sen. Carl Marcellino in the 5th District, and Sen. John Brooks (D-Seaford), a freshman seeking re-election against Republican Jeffrey Pravato, urged passage of the legislation.
The Red Flag measure would allow school staff to petition a judge for an "extreme-risk" protection order to prevent a potentially dangerous student from purchasing, possessing or attempting to possess a firearm, rifle or shotgun.
Brooks said Senate Democrats were ready to vote on the Red Flag bill in June, but Republicans didn't bring the proposal to the floor.
"Passage of that bill could, would, and will save lives," Brooks said.
The bill passed the Assembly earlier this year, but faced opposition in the Senate.
Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif did not respond directly to the issues the Democrats raised in their news conference.
In the days leading up to Tuesday's elections, Democrats and Republicans are trying to make the case that they should run the Senate.
Earlier this week, Senate Republicans said a proposal by Democrats to create single-payer health care could quadruple the average Long Island family's state income tax bill. The proposal, which has been introduced by Democrats in each of the past two years, would result in $139 billion in new spending, Senate Republicans said.
Also at the news conference Friday were members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and Linda Beigel Schulman of Dix Hills, whose son was killed in February in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
"Rolling back gun safety laws will make Long Island and New York families less safe," said Laura Burns, state communications lead of Moms Demand Action.
"We need to make progress on issues like Red Flag bills, banning bump stocks, implementing effective background checks, and that will only happen with a Senate Democratic majority," she said.