Rocah, Moms Demand Action Urge Senate to Support Background Checks on Gun Purchases

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Westchester County District Attorney Mimi Rocah and Moms Demand Action
Westchester County District Attorney Mimi Rocah stands with volunteers from Moms Demand Action in White Plains Thursday urging for the U.S. Senate to approve background checks for gun purchases. The measure has been passed twice by the House of Representatives.

Westchester County District Attorney Mimi Rocah joined volunteers from Moms Demand Action Thursday morning in White Plains calling on the U.S. Senate to approve background checks as the nation continues to experience mass shootings.

The Moms Demand Action representatives stopped in front of the Westchester County Courthouse as part of the Road Trip for Background Checks, a 10-day series of seven different road trips from around the country that will converge in Washington by next week and hand deliver murals with messages and photos from advocates and victims’ families.

“We’re doing this because it’s been 25 years since the federal government has passed meaningful legislation on gun violence,” said Barry Graubart, a volunteer leader for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “That’s 25 years of gun violence survivors watching their loved ones be killed. It’s 25 years of advocates fighting day after day after day to get common-sense gun laws passed. It’s 25 years of incidents like we’ve seen in Colorado, in Atlanta and in the streets of every community every single day in America. But that can stop now.”

Expanded background checks to buy firearms should be achievable because it enjoys support from more than 90 percent of all Americans, including gun owners, and about 85 percent of Republicans, Rocah said. Although New York and some other states have strong gun laws, the state-by-state approach is ineffective because guns are transported across borders and find their way into hands of people who shouldn’t have access to them, she said.

What has been missing until now has been federal leadership on the issue, Rocah mentioned.

“We need to prevent moms from losing more children, dads losing children, children losing parents, death by suicide,” Rocah said. “We’re the only country in the world that has this gun violence problem because we don’t treat guns like something that needs to be regulated as much as a car and it needs to be.”

The stop in White Plains on Thursday came on the same day that President Joe Biden signed six executive actions designed to curb gun violence, including restricting “ghost guns,” weapons that can be built by purchasing pieces online that are untraceable.

Also on hand was Nadine McKenzie, the mother of 13-year-old Shamoya McKenzie, a budding basketball star who was killed by a stray bullet fired by a gang member in Mount Vernon in 2016. The younger McKenzie was sitting in the front passenger seat while her mother was driving when she was killed.

McKenzie, who signed the Moms Demand Action mural, said no parent or family member should have to go through what she experienced with the death of her daughter. She thinks about Shamoya’s life being cut short virtually every day and urged the Senate to take action.

“This is very important that another mother doesn’t feel the pain that I’m going through,” McKenzie said.

Background checks for gun purchases should be the first part of federal legislation that also includes two other effective steps – red flag laws that confiscate guns from people who are deemed by a court to be a threat to themselves and others and cracking down on ghost guns, Rocah added.

Graubart said while tighter gun legislation may appear to be an uphill fight, 20 years ago few would have imagined that marriage equality would become increasingly popular throughout the United States. He sees the gradual acceptance of tighter federal gun laws as something that will eventually be accepted.

“We hope the Senate will act on it, and if not, we know we will be there in the voting booth next time,” Graubart said.

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