Tom Suozzi, in his fight to represent New York’s Third Congressional District, has gained endorsements from national, state and local gun violence prevention organizations and activists amid his campaign calls for greater public safety and removing firearms from the streets.
“We all believe that we need to end the epidemic of gun violence,” Linda Beigel Schulman said. “We now have the opportunity to do so, to do something about what we believe.”
Biegel Schulman, of Melville, whose son, Scott Beigel, was shot on Feb. 14, 2018, by an active shooter while teaching at Parkland High School. The geography teacher saved numerous lives in the last heroic moments of his life as he brought his students to safety in his classroom.
Beigel Schulman, who endorsed Suozzi, said the former Democratic congressman now seeking his old seat was someone who was with her amid her darkest days after her son’s death and cried with her through the pain. But more importantly, she said, Suozzi advocated for her and her son by pushing for legislation to prevent such future incidents.
Joining her support for Suozzi in the special election for the 3rd CD were endorsements by gun violence prevention organizations the Brady Campaign, Giffords and Moms Demand Action.
Suozzi is facing off against Republican Nassau County District 10 Legislator Pilip in a Feb. 13 special election to finish out the term of Republican Rep. George Santos, who was expelled from the House.
Tanya Schardt, the senior counsel and senior director for federal and state policy for the Brady Campaign, said she worked with Suozzi on gun policy while he was a legislator. This included the passage of the bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which included strengthened background checks for people under 21 years old and funds for red flag laws.
She said Suozzi “is the only candidate in this race with the commitment and experience to prioritize and ensure public health and safety.”
Adzi Vokhiwa, federal affairs director of Giffords, said Suozzi’s record on promoting gun safety, which was achieved by working across the aisle with Republicans, speaks for his ability to uphold public safety as the district’s representative.
“If we don’t elect more gun safety champions like Tom Suozzi to Congress and flip the House back to a gun safety majority, we will continue to be at a stalemate when it comes to making progress on gun violence prevention,” Vokhiwa said.
Beigel Schulman and Suozzi advocated at a press conference Wednesday for gun violence prevention and gun safety, not gun control – a distinction they drew between the two gun stances with gun control often viewed as a “buzzword” for far-right Republicans.
Suozzi said gun violence prevention is not only directed at diminishing crimes enacted with guns, like mass shootings, but also to prevent accidents and self-harm by guns.
The Democrat, who has garnered an “F” rating from the NRA, said he is in favor of universal background checks and has supported every gun violence prevention legislative effort in Congress.
“I will work with anybody across party lines to solve the problems that we face,” Suozzi said. “And we can’t solve these problems like gun violence that have been going on for decades, unless we stop the yelling and the screaming, we stop the attacking and we start working more on finding common ground with each other.”
While Suozzi has won endorsements by national gun violence prevention groups, he said Pilip is endorsed by the Conservative Party – a party that opposes gun violence prevention measures.
Suozzi said her campaign relies on generalities with little expansion on her political positions as he advocates for why debates are important in this election. He added that she has no record of pushing for gun violence prevention legislation.
Pilip’s 10-point plan makes no mention of stopping gun violence but rather focuses on getting tougher on crime by repealing bail reform laws and supporting law enforcement.
He said pandering to political party bases, not finding common ground to seek solutions, is what is “killing our county.”
“We cannot become complacent and let gun violence continue to be a common occurrence in our daily lives,” Biegel Schulman said. “Believe me, you do not want to be haunted because a loved one, a friend or a co-worker has become a victim of gun violence. You don’t want to keep looking over your shoulder when you walk into a mall, a supermarket, a house of worship or a movie theater. You don’t want to have to worry that an active shooter may show up at your child or your grandchild’s school.
She concluded, “We need Tom Suozzi to fight for us.”