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Parents of Parkland victims call for stricter gun control at rally

Fred Guttenberg and Linda Beigel Schulman voiced support for a bill that would allow issuance of a court order to prevent someone from purchasing or possessing a gun if they were deemed a risk to themselves or others.

Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was killed in February's Parkland, Florida, high school mass shooting, supported the stricter gun laws proposed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, at a rally in Westbury on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018.  (Credit: Newsday / John Asbury)

Two parents of victims killed in the mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida, rallied Saturday for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and urged the State Senate to pass stricter gun laws.

Cuomo held the rally in Westbury, five days before the Democratic gubernatorial primary against Cynthia Nixon. The governor gave a blistering speech almost entirely aimed at President Donald Trump and Republicans in the State Senate. He made no mention of Nixon and he did not take questions after his speech.

Parkland parents Fred Guttenberg and Linda Beigel Schulman endorsed Cuomo and his call to pass what is called a red-flag bill — an extreme-risk protection law that would allow a court order to prevent an individual from purchasing or possessing a gun if he or she were deemed at risk of doing harm to themselves or hurting others.

The bill would follow New York’s SAFE Act, which Cuomo said includes 77,000 people on the mental health database who are unable to own or purchase guns. The 2013 law’s title stands for Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement.

A spokeswoman for Nixon’s campaign said Nixon supports the NY SAFE Act.

Guttenberg and Beigel Schulman said if Florida had passed such laws, it could have prevented the killings of their children. Jaime Guttenberg, 14, was a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and Scott Beigel, 35, taught geography and was a cross country coach.

Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former Parkland student, allegedly killed 14 students and three teachers or coaches during the rampage, and injured 17 others. The school district later reported he had a history of mental illness and did not receive treatment through the school.

Cruz remains held on multiple counts of premeditated murder and murder. In August, authorities released his videotaped confession.

“Jaime was the toughest person I knew and she fought for her life until the very last second,” her father told the crowd of several hundred gathered in the Yes We Can Community Center’s gym. “We know because she was in the hallway — there’s video of her running down the hall being hunted with an active shooter at back, and boom! A single shot to her spine. One second later she’d be in the stairwell and safe.”

He continued, “There is no question if red-flag laws were in place before Feb. 14 in Florida, our children would be alive today.”

Linda Beigel Schulmann said she has been fighting for reasonable gun control and a complete ban on assault rifles since her son’s death. Cruz was armed with an AR-15-style semi-automatic weapon that he purchased legally.

“No parent should be afraid of sending their child to school,” Beigel Schulman said. “No student should be afraid of getting shot.”

Guttenberg said he was shunned on Tuesday when Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh did not shake his hand as Guttenberg attempted to introduce himself during a break at the judge’s Senate confirmation hearing in Washington.

“ ‘My name is Fred Guttenberg, father of Jaime Guttenberg, who was murdered in Parkland.’ Those were the exact words I made an effort to say to Judge Kavanaugh,” Guttenberg said. “When I got to the ‘murdered in Parkland’ part, he turned and walked away.”

Cuomo condemned Kavanaugh for not shaking Guttenberg’s hand.

“You want to be put on the highest court in this land and you don’t have the decency to shake a man’s hand?” Cuomo said. “God forbid they confirm this man for the Supreme Court of the United States. That’s what we’re talking about.”

A White House spokesman has said that security intervened before Kavanaugh was able to shake Guttenberg’s hand. Guttenberg, in response, said on Twitter last week that security was not involved after he was introduced to Kavanaugh by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

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