12th Congressional District candidates call for ambitious gun reforms

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Photo by Dean Moses

During a campaign season increasingly marked by horrific mass shootings, three candidates in the running for New York’s 12 Congressional District have vowed to fight for sweeping gun regulations as part of their campaign.

In the wake of the July 4 shooting in Illinois and the passage of bipartisan gun violence legislation, amNY and the Villager asked the candidates what gun control measures they would prioritize in the next term.

Congressmember Jerry Nadler suggested his recent gun reform package that passed the house but has not made it to the Senate floor has several regulations aimed specifically at mass shootings. Congressmember Carolyn Maloney said that her priority is a wide-ranging ban on assault weapons. Insurgent candidate Suraj Patel, proposed a combination of their answers along with an extensive list of other gun regulations.

About two weeks ago, President Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the most significant new federal legislation to address gun violence for decades. But policy experts have called it a compromised bill, and pointed out how several of the key provisions of the legislation seem to be aimed more at gun suicide prevention. 

The Highland Park parade shooting provides yet another incident of a high-powered rifle used in a mass shooting event. Nadler said that his proposed legislation, the Protecting Our Kids Act, would crack down on several of the rifle customizations that have been used in a number of mass killings.

“From regulating ghost guns and bump stocks to prohibiting large-capacity ammunition feeding devices, my bill would make it much, much harder for violent offenders to carry out the kind of mass shooting events that have become horrifyingly common across our country,” Nadler said in a statement to amNY and the Villager.

Maloney touted her position as Chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee as an important perch to hold the gun lobby and gun manufacturers accountable. She recently held a congressional committee meeting of her oversight committee after the Buffalo and Uvalde shootings, and launched an investigation into the five leading gun manufacturers. She said she plans on continuing these investigations and will be holding additional hearings on the gun violence epidemic. 

Policywise, Maloney said Congress needs to ban assault weapons. 

“So many of the mass shooting events involved assault weapons that should only be on the battlefield, and not the streets of cities,” she said.

Patel backs a long laundry list of gun regulations that overlap with both sitting legislators including a ban assault weapons, high capacity magazines and body armor; passing universal background checks and red flag laws; cracking down on ghost guns; banning concealed carry; mandatory training for those who pass background checks; safe storage laws; and the repeal of gun industry immunity laws. He attacked his opponents for not doing enough over their 30-year tenure.

“1990s democrats have lost every major battle to Mitch McConnell from abortion to climate change to guns. We need a new generation of leaders with a new vision and new message to win back this country and fight for the next decade-plus. It is telling that I am the only candidate in this race with a comprehensive plan for public safety,” Patel said in a statement.

The candidates also discussed what policies would have an effect on gun violence in their district in New York City.

Maloney took credit for a section of the recently passed bipartisan legislation that makes gun trafficking a federal felony and strengthens penalties for straw purchasers. 

Nadler said his gun control package would add additional roadblocks for those trafficking firearms from other states with looser gun laws. 

Patel agreed with the idea to crack down on guns coming in from other states but said that New York City’s gun violence programs must be addressed by passing the VICTIM Act, which provides incentives for law enforcement to retain and invest in detectives, investigators and technologies to clear homicides and make shootings a priority. 

“New York also needs to invest in non-police, place-based interventions such as installing more street lights which are proven to prevent crime,” Patel said.