by Robert Kesten

On that Thursday, when shots rang out in Florida, I was substitute teaching at Fox Lane High School. As I dismissed my last class, the news came through on my phone. As I passed the school’s resource officer in the hallway, I was overly aware of just how helpless he would have been had that horror played out in a Westchester, Putnam, or Dutchess County school.

The aftershocks of what transpired in Florida have not left us. The power of high school students across this country has inspired adults to speak up and join the students in their quest to address the serious issues facing our nation. On March 14th they will stage a mass walkout nationwide, calling attention to this tragedy and the inaction that has followed. That night, our campaign will address the gun issue at our Town Hall in New Castle.

The NRA has lost its bearings and certainly no longer has its finger on the pulse.

Elected officials who have long toed the gun lobby’s line are now starting to look for the exit ramps. Our own Terrence Murphy, who has a 93% rating with the NRA, who has called for the repeal of New York’s SAFE Act, who has called for making schools into fortresses—even he is feeling the heat. Hard to know if this is convenience or conviction, as it is a long time coming and way too many young lives have been lost in the interim.

Mr. Murphy cannot simply change his stripes without apologizing to the many families who have lost loved ones in one mass shooting after another. He cannot simply transform himself into a gun safety advocate because it is an election year. He owes his constituents more than that. For almost four years in office he has toed the NRA line, he has touted their agenda, death after death, saying it is too soon to talk about gun safety legislation. Mr. Murphy’s post after the Florida massacre was a quote from scripture… For me, personally, my heart has no more room for the thoughts and prayers of elected officials who have done so little for so long.

If Mr. Murphy has converted, he must tell us why and he must bring to a vote the many bills that have passed the NYS Assembly and remain blocked by the NY State Senate.

We cannot accept a midnight conversion to save a political campaign, Mr. Murphy. Sign on to the bills sitting in your chamber, force them, with the help of Democrats and IDC members, to the floor, and vote them through so Governor Cuomo can sign them into law. It is time to do the right thing for the people of Senate District 40.

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