Dem. Candidates Criticize Faso’s Response to Shooting

Some of the Democratic candidates for New York’s 19th Congressional District were not happy with U.S. Representative John Faso’s response to the deadly school shooting that took place on Feb. 14 in Parkland, Florida.

After the shooting occurred, Faso tweeted on Feb. 15 that, “As we learn more about the senseless and tragic shooting in Florida, my prayers are with the victims and all the students, teachers, law enforcement and families impacted by this violent attack. We must do better to understand how to recognize warning signs and better protect our communities.”

Democratic candidate for the 19th district Jeff Beals was critical of Faso’s response to the tragedy that took place in Florida.

“I believe that John Faso has blood on his hands. The warning signs for a tragedy like this has been seen for a long time,” he said. “Congress is under the thumb of interest groups such as the NRA.”

Dave Clegg, who is another Democratic candidate for District 19, and an alumnus of SUNY New Paltz, echoed Beals’ sentiment on the NRA’s impact on Congress. 

“The NRA uses control and money to impact our lawmakers,” Clegg, a native of Woodstock said. “We need our Congress to stop groveling at the feet of the NRA and realize that gun violence is a major issue.” 

It was reported by The Daily Gazette that Faso received $5,950 from the NRA during the 2016 election cycle, which is when he was elected after he defeated Zephyr Teachout by an eight point margin. 

JefBeals, who is  also a native of Woodstock and a former school teacher, believes that the NRA’s donations to Faso impacted his stance on gun control policies.

“The NRA absolutely dictates Faso’s policy positions,” he said. “The United States Constitution calls for domestic tranquility, and I believe that Faso is failing at that right now.”  

Since his election, Faso voted for the H.R. 38 Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in December 2017. The proposal would allow any person with a concealed carry permit from one state to carry their weapon in any other state. It would also allow anybody with a concealed carry permit to do so on any federal land, such as national parks or national monuments. Although the act passed in the House, the Senate did not pass this measure.

In the Parkland, Florida shooting, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz used an AR-15 style rifle to kill 17 people. 14 of which were students.

When it comes to solutions for gun control, Beals recommended for the weapon to be banned. 

“The AR-15 is a weapon of war that needs to be banned,” he  said. “We need universal background checks for people looking to buy guns. This is coming from somebody who is a gun owner.”

In a press release, Democratic candidate Brian Flynn discussed how the majority of Americans, including gun owners, support some type of gun control policies.

“There are common sense solutions to stem the violence and mass murder. Over 94 percent of Americans – including the vast majority of gun owners – believe that we need enhanced background checks and policies that make it much more difficult for civilians to get their hands on these weapons of war,” he said. 

Flynn added how it is reasonable that the second amendment and gun safety can both be supported.

“The shooting in Florida is a national tragedy. It is time politicians actually did something instead of only extending their thoughts and prayers,” he said. “As a parent, I shouldn’t have to fear my kids aren’t safe at school. We can support both the second Amendment and gun safety laws at the same time.” 

Clegg mentioned how extensive background checks are imperative, and he also touched on the possibility of banning guns.

“We need to close the loophole of no background checks,” he said. “I think that a ban on guns needs to be discussed, but it will be tough to go through with that given the amount of people that currently own guns in the United States.”  

The Democratic candidate who will face Faso in the Nov. 6 midterm election for New York’s 19th district will be decided in the Democratic primary election, which is set to take place on June 26.