Governor Andrew Cuomo Signs the Red Flag Bill At John Jay College with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi

Governor Andrew Cuomo Signs the Red Flag Bill At John Jay College with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi

Governor Andrew Cuomo Signs the Red Flag Bill At John Jay College with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi

On Monday, February 25, 2019, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Red Flag Bill into law at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.  He was joined by many of his colleagues in New York State government, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to celebrate this new legislation, the first in the nation of its kind. His special guests, who helped give the bill a more heartfelt perspective, were Linda Beigel Schulman, who lost her son, Scott J. Beigel, in the Parkland, Florida school shooting, and Mark Barden, whose son, Daniel, was killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting.

A Mother’s Fight
“I am one of far too many mothers who have faced the inexplicable tragedy of losing a child in a school shooting,” said Schulman, addressing not only the politicians in the room, but her fellow advocates who came out in large numbers for the event. “My son Scott, a 35-year-old teacher, cross country coach, and a hero, was a victim of the Majory Stoneman Douglas massacre in Parkland, Florida. We are also joined by Mark Barden who lost his seven-year-old son, Daniel, in the Sandy Hook shooting. He is one of far too many fathers who has faced this indescribable tragedy. Today we are here together with Governor Cuomo and Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, who mean it when they say, no more, this has to stop.”

“Parkland would have never happened, and my son would still be alive, if Parkland had the Red Flag Law on February 13, 2018.” — Linda Beigel Schulman

Schulman went on to describe how after Parkland she met with Governor Cuomo to fight for the Red Flag Bill, legislation that empowers school teachers and administrators with judicial intervention and evaluation when they believe a person is a danger to themselves or others. “Parkland would have never happened, and my son would still be alive, if Parkland had the Red Flag law on February 13, 2018,” said Schulman. “Teachers and students at the school say they knew the student was a threat, but there was nothing they could do because there was no law in place. I am very proud of my state for doing what makes sense, and I know Scott is proud too.” She went on to explain that it had been a long time since she had something to celebrate, but that today she would celebrate the Red Flag legislation being signed into law. “I look up and say to my son, no matter how senseless, no matter how unspeakable, no matter how incomprehensible, your murder is going to save lives. Thank you, Governor Cuomo on behalf of myself, my family, and especially on behalf of my son. Scott J. Beigel, we did it.” 

“Sandy Hook was not the last. It was not an exception. In many ways it was only the beginning of a terrible scourge that went across this nation,”— Andrew Cuomo, New York Governor

A Governor’s Commitment
It’s no secret that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is making it his mission to enact smart gun control legislation. After Sandy Hook, New York State passed the Safe Act, banning assault weapons, banning high capacity magazines, and extending background checks to private sales. “Sandy Hook was not the last. It was not an exception. In many ways it was only the beginning of a terrible scourge that went across this nation,” said Cuomo. “It's only gotten worse, one after the other, one more violent than the other. One more nonsensical than the other. And New York said no more, let's use common sense, and we passed the Safe Act, and the Safe Act made sense. Yes, people have a right to a gun if they are legitimate hunters and legitimate sportsmen, but not a person who is mentally ill, not a person who has a criminal background. Why would you ever put a gun in their hand?” Cuomo went on to praise Speaker Pelosi for the work she’s already done, and is about to fight for, regarding gun control and closing up the national loophole that enables individuals to purchase guns privately or at gun shows without a background check. “It is a total loophole that swallows the law. The reality is, there is no background check in this nation if you want to buy a gun,” he explained.

Governor Andrew Cuomo speaking
Governor Andrew Cuomo explaining the importance of the Red Flag Law

“We want to empower school teachers, not by giving them guns, which is the President's idea—how ludicrous a concept, arm the teachers, so when the bad person comes into the classroom, there can be a shootout in the classroom. No, arm and empower the teachers with the law. So, when the teacher or family member sees there's a problem, and believes that the person could be a danger to themselves or others, they can go to a judge and say, please do an evaluation. It is common sense.”

A Speaker’s Resolve
When Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi walked up to the lectern, the first two people she addressed were Schulman and Barden. She thanked Barden for working all over the country as a relentless champion for gun violence prevention. Pelosi told Schulman that it warmed her heart hearing her say that she could finally celebrate something, seeing the Red Flag Bill become a law. Then Pelosi addressed the crowd, synthesizing the matter down to a direct and powerful statement. “This gun violence issue is a national health epidemic,” said Pelosi. “And Mr. President, you want to talk emergencies, this is an emergency.”  

“This gun violence issue is a national health epidemic,” said Pelosi. “And Mr. President, you want to talk emergencies, this is an emergency.” — Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House

The Speaker went on to thank Governor Cuomo and the state of New York for being a strong leader in gun control legislation. She told the audience that it wasn’t just the leaders in New York government that were making the change come about, it was also the mobilization of young people, families, teachers, mothers, and fathers all having the courage to speak out and elect people willing to address gun violence in our country head on with legislation. Then she commented on the gun control work she’s trying to accomplish on the national level. “I want the families to know that this will not end here. We have more to do. We're going to make sure that we do what's necessary to reduce violence in our county,” said Pelosi. “Tonight, we're taking the bill to the Rules Committee. Tomorrow the Rule will be on the floor in order to vote on Wednesday. And we'll pass the bill on gun violence background checks.”

“This is not about politics. It's not about partisanship. It's about patriotism. It's about the Constitution of the United States of America.” — Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House

Then, to the delight of the crowd, she commented on the President’s emergency declaration. “Tonight, we're also going to the Rules Committee to put forth a resolution to overturn the President's declaration. Congressman Joaquin Castro, Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, from Texas, a border state, is taking the lead on this,” said Pelosi. “This is not about politics. It's not about partisanship. It's about patriotism. It's about the Constitution of the United States of America.” She explained that at the heart of the Constitution is a separation of powers, with coequal branches of government, designed as checks and balances to each other. And for Pelosi, not putting forth this “check” on the Executive Branch would make her delinquent on her duties and her oath of office.