The Bay Ridge Democrats held their first meeting of the new year on Thursday, February 21 at the Bridgeview Diner.
In the wake of the December 14 catastrophe in Newtown, Connecticut, the Dems hosted a gun control panel with Bob Muldoon, founding member of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence; Jenna Adams, legislative counsel to Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh and Kristen Pettit, a local gun control activist.
Adams began the discussion, outlining the recent assault weapons ban that was passed in New York State. Kavanagh is the chair of State Legislature Against Illegal Guns, which had been holding panels for years, looking for ways to reduce gun violence in neighborhoods.
After Newtown, we built a consensus as to what members wanted, Adams explained, adding that most of the eight main points of their letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo eventually became law.
We got stricter gun control provisions than we were expecting, she said.
Muldoon, who is a Ridgeite, said that there was a drought of several years with no gun control laws. He had previously met with Congressmember Michael Grimm to try and get stricter laws passed, but got nowhere. Then, Newtown happened.
We are fighting this because we believe in it. It was obvious to me that we had to go meet with him [again after Newtown], Muldoon said. A funny thing happened. He supported us! We got there through perseverance, but sadly this is a tough issue.
He encouraged members to call Grimms office to thank him for his support.
A weapons ban is a really big deal, Muldoon said. Please swallow your pride, pick up the phone and call Congressmember Grimm. Responsible gun laws are long overdue.
Pettit, who is also a Ridgeite, stressed that she was involved with gun control legislation for personal reasons.
I can only speak from the heart, she said, noting that on the day of the Newtown massacre, she was at a friends house. Both women have children who are just four years old.
I sat there in stunned silence, but we knew we had to do something. My father said that the NRA is too strong, but thats wrong, Pettit explained. The NRA is not stronger than a parents love for a child.
Pettit got the idea to have a one million mom, dad and child march on Washington Mall. I want Congress to know the pain we are feeling, she said.
Dems member Andrew Gounardes helped Pettit set up a page on Facebook, where she joined forces with other parents desperate to make a change.
Now, Pettit is co-founder of One Million Kids for Sensible Gun Policies, with over 9,000 Facebook followers. They are planning a march for some time in May.
We wont let them go home for the summer without voting on this, she said.
The next Bay Ridge Democrats meeting will take place on Thursday, March 14. Details to follow.