BY SAM RAPPAPORT
U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) joined a group of high school students at Jackson Heights’ Renaissance Charter School on Tuesday to demand that national legislators enact stricter gun laws.
“I stand with these students, who are no longer going to tolerate inaction by Washington,” said Crowley.
The event was held one day before high school students across the nation took part in walkouts aimed at pressuring Congress to adopt comprehensive gun control legislation.
Crowley called for the extension of holding periods for gun purchases, prohibition of assault weapons and a ban on bump stocks, which allow semiautomatic weapons to fire at speeds similar to machine guns.
Crowley said that he was moved by the growing number of high school students advocating for gun control in the aftermath of the mass shooting at Parkland, Florida.
“When national gun legislation is passed, it won’t be Congress; it will be these children who will have made the difference,” Crowley said.
Many New York students have linked their newfound activism to the inspiration they’ve drawn from the outspoken students of Parkland, who survived a shooting rampage that left 17 people dead.
“The guns have changed, but the laws have not,” said Renaissance Charter student Loren Francione, who quoted Emma Gonzalez, a student at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Renaissance Charter student Nico Cortez Alvarez said that the current climate surrounding gun control reflected “a new wave of empowerment for young people.”
“We don’t want more thoughts and prayers,” she said. “What we need is action, and we need it right now.”
During the event, Crowley signed a pledge to never accept political donations from the NRA, whose lobbying arm is often cited as the reason for Congress’s hesitation to adopt stricter gun regulations. Nadia Hussain, a campaign director for the advocacy group Moms Rising, presented Crowley with a “No NRA Pledge.”
“Politicians who continue to accept contributions from the NRA are complicit in this violence,” Hussain said.
Renaissance Charter Principal Stacey Gauthier said that she supports Wednesday’s walkout and expects most, if not all, students to take part. Following the Parkland shooting, Gauthier said that she received a barrage of phone calls from concerned parents. In response, she said, the school has taken steps to fortify itself against threats of violence.
“We’ve increased our drills and worked on our safety protocols,” Gauthier said. “But the answer is to address the issues. We have to get to the root of it, and the root of it is sensible gun legislation.”