POUGHKEEPSIE – Dozens
gathered on a Saturday afternoon at the Family Partnership Center in Poughkeepsie
to voice their concerns on local and national incidents related to gun
violence to Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney (D, NY-18).
“We are burying too many of our neighbors, and this is a problem
that is unique to our country,” said Maloney. “We have to
look at ourselves and ask why we are the only country that deals with
mass shootings and school shootings.”
Rep. Maloney, right, listens as Mayor Rolison discusses
Poughkeepsie school situatuation
In the wake of the Parkland, Florida school shooting, threats of violence
have emerged in Hudson Valley school districts. City of Poughkeepsie schools
were closed down as a threat was investigated and expect to resume classes
on Monday after a threat uncovered via Snapchat was found to be “without
Still, Maloney pointed out the concerning nature of this influx of threats.
“When you look at the increase in the frequency and lethality of
these events, it’s hard not to feel deeply worried,” he said.
“I don’t care what side of the political spectrum you are
on, I hope we can all agree that what we are doing is not working.”
Poughkeepsie Mayor Robert Rolison provided an update on the Poughkeepsie
school district situation.
He noted that a comprehensive investigation conducted by the police department
in conjunction with the FBI has found a person of interest, but that person
was hospitalized and the threat itself was determined to not be credible.
Rolison said that the investigation will continue regardless.
Maloney praised the efforts of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
students who have been vociferous in getting legislative action on gun
control measures. He met with those students recently on Capitol Hill.
“These kids are amazing,” he said. “They have gone through
this horrific thing, and yet they have activated themselves and are trying
to do something.”
He then compared their efforts to push for stricter gun laws to the 1939
classic film “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”
Maloney also encouraged students in the auditorium to speak first.
The students brought up issues ranging from school safety to banning assault
weapons. Wappingers Junior High School student Maya Jackman gave a speech
that earned a rousing ovation.
“All of us are heartbroken, but we have had a legacy of being heartbroken
for a long time,” she said. “It is high time we stop this
history and take charge.”
One of the adults to confront Maloney was U.S. Army Master Sergeant John
Collins, a gun owner who blamed the high incidence of mass shootings on
“People kill people, and the people who do that don’t care
what the law says,” he said.
Others touched on a variety of related topics, including arming teachers,
longtime cuts in mental health treatment and the issue of politicians
receiving contributions from the National Rifle Association.