The right to “bear arms” is guaranteed in the Constitution as clearly as the freedom of speech.
But, as with speech, there are limitations when necessary to curb the threat of violence.
That’s why we restrict gun access for felons, the mentally ill and domestic abusers if they are a threat to others. And it’s why I cosponsored a bill in the fall that has only become more urgent in the months since then.
When 58 people were gunned down in Las Vegas last October, it became clear that we could no longer keep treating these mass shootings as a sad yet inevitable part of life.
I was the first member of Congress from New York to cosponsor the Gun Violence Restraining Order Act. The bill would empower relatives and law enforcement to seek an immediate temporary restraining order from the courts to stop someone who is a danger to themselves or others from buying or possessing a gun.
As The Post has reported, the alleged school shooter in Parkland, Fla., exhibited strange and dangerous behavior leading up to the attack — so strange, in fact, that an acquaintance reported him to the FBI. Unfortunately, the FBI failed to confront him.
Had someone close to him been able to at least get law enforcement to immediately, if temporarily, take the guns out of his possession, those kids might still be alive.
And it’s not as though the Parkland shooter was the exception. The perpetrators of slaughter in Sandy Hook, Charleston and Orlando showed the same kind of frightening behavior as the Florida shooter before going on their rampage.
Gun violence restraining orders are a commonsense way to try and stop people who appear to be an imminent threat to public safety without curtailing their fundamental constitutional rights. Indeed, all those petitioning for gun violence restraining orders must prove their case in court.
It should be a quick hearing, and if you cannot prove to a judge that the person in question is a threat to themselves or others, the GVRO should be lifted immediately.
Since taking office, I have been steadfast in my desire to work across party lines to try and find solutions to America’s pressing problems. It’s what voters put us in office to do, no matter how contentious the issue. I believe Republicans and Democrats can and should get behind GVROs, because it is another tool to protect our people while preserving our right to bear arms. I believe the same goes for universal background checks, “no fly, no buy” and other bipartisan ideas to prevent gun violence.
Roughly 90 percent of Americans support universal background checks. They also support stopping the dangerously mentally ill from getting their hands on a weapon. I agree with them. And this is fully compatible with our Constitution and due-process rights.
We can do what makes sense and save lives. Too many people have died already, and we are all sick and tired of the inaction in Washington, DC.
I am hoping (and trying with my GOP colleague Rep. Peter King) to help organize the teenagers and high schoolers of Long Island and beyond to facilitate this young people’s movement and actually move our colleagues forward on gun-violence prevention.
If we allow those who pose a danger to us and our children to inflict harm without taking even the most basic preventative measures, we’ll be hurting our way of life, and ourselves. Let’s act!