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Rep. Suozzi, activists support bill for universal background checks

H.R. 8 would require anyone attempting to purchase a gun to pass a background check, including people buying weapons at gun shows.

Linda Schulman, mother of a Parkland school shooting victim, and Rep. Tom Suozzi gathered on Tuesday, just over a year after the Florida killings to advocate for further federal gun safety laws.  (Credit: Johnny Milano)

Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), Linda Beigel Schulman, whose son died in the Parkland, Florida, school shooting last year, along with  gun violence prevention groups, gathered at a news conference in Huntington Tuesday and pushed for federal legislation that requires a background check for anyone purchasing a gun. 

Suozzi, members of Moms Demand Action, and members of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence said they support and want "swift passage" of H.R. 8, a House bill that would require anyone attempting to purchase a gun to pass a background check, including at gun shows. Gun show retailers do not have to perform checks under current federal law. Passing the bill, also called the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, could help prevent school shootings like the one last year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, advocates said. 

"It has been more than a year since last year's tragic shootings in Parkland, and sadly little has been done to combat the scourge of gun violence on a federal level," Suozzi said in a statement. "We must do all we can do to prevent this from ever happening again."

Schulman, of Dix Hills, lost her son, teacher Scott Beigel, in the Parkland shooting. She said Suozzi is doing the right thing by pushing to expand background checks. 

"Congressman Suozzi totally gets that H.R. 8 should not be a partisan issue and is fighting for the safety of everyone," Schulman said in a statement. "He does not speak as a politician; he speaks as a father who cares deeply and as a person who is determined to make safety his primary issue."

U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) introduced the bill last month, and it has been moved to the House Judiciary Committee for further review. The bill has a Senate companion called the Background Check Expansion Act, introduced by Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.) that's also under judiciary committee review.

Federal law already blocks certain people from purchasing guns, including felons, people under restraining orders, and people found guilty of using controlled substances. 

New York lawmakers have already passed legislation that they believe will keep firearms away from potentially dangerous people. The State Legislature last month passed a “red-flag” bill that enables authorities to take guns away from a gun owner who a judge has determined to be mentally ill. The red-flag bill allows a judge to issue an “extreme risk protection order” to prohibit a person deemed to be a risk from buying or possessing a firearm for as long as a year. 

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