The deadliest mass shooting in United States history has led to renewed calls for gun control measures from some politicians, but it’s unclear if anything will change as most remain divided along party lines.
Following Sunday’s shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub that left 50 dead and 53 injured, local representatives released statements and acknowledged steps should be taken to prevent similar events in the future. For the most part, politicians stayed in line with their respective parties, as well as with their previous stances on the issue of gun control versus gun owners’ rights.
Here’s a look at how local representatives responded to the Orlando shooting, and how they compare on the issue of gun rights and gun control.
U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook
Represents New York’s 19th Congressional District
Response to shooting: Gibson posted a statement to his Facebook page on Sunday. “Horrific attack on our country last night in Florida. Over 50 souls lost. Our country is strong and as Americans we remain united in our resolve to defend this cherished way of life, protect our people, mourn the dead and care for the wounded. Rest in peace.”
His office did not respond to request for comment Monday regarding his views on gun rights.
Gibson received $8,900 from the National Rifle Association during the 2014 election cycle, the most of any politician in New York state, according to opensecrets.org.
U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam
Represents New York’s 20th Congressional District
Response to shooting: Tonko released a statement Monday saying his thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the shooting. He condemned the shooting as an act of terror.
“We must decide if this is our ‘new normal,’ where these tragedies happen with increased regularity and increased magnitude,” he wrote. “I’m not ready to live in a world like that.”
Previous gun control record: Dating to when he was elected to Congress in 2012, Tonko has called for limits on large capacity ammunition weapons, and has most recently called for a law that would prevent individuals on a terrorist watch list from being able to legally purchase a firearm, said Sean Magers, Tonko’s spokesman. The proposed law has been introduced in Congress multiple times in the past few years, but has failed to pass each time.
U.S Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro
Represents New York’s 21st Congressional District
Response to shooting: Stefanik released a statement on Monday calling the shooting a “horrific and cowardly act.” She added that as the investigation into the incident proceeds, she’ll be working with the House Armed Services Committee to learn about the attacker and prevent similar events from happening again.
Previous gun control record: Stefanik is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, and in January opposed President Barack Obama’s executive order that tightened background checks on those purchasing firearms. On Monday, her spokesman Tom Flanagin said Stefanik will support common-sense reforms “so that we can take action that will help stop gun violence in our country.”
Stefanik received $2,000 from the NRA during the 2014 election cycle, according to opensecrets.org.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
Response to shooting: Schumer released a brief statement on Sunday expressing sadness about the shooting. On Monday, in a series of tweets, Schumer responded to the incident in more detail. He said Senate Democrats won’t bow to the NRA and allow suspected terrorists to get their hands on guns.
“Mass shootings are the status quo because Congress voted against sensible gun safety measures. It’s that simple,” he tweeted.
Previous gun control record: Schumer has previously supported stricter gun laws, including the legislation that would prevent suspected terrorists from legally purchasing firearms. In 2015, he teamed up with comedian Amy Schumer to push a law that would make it more difficult for violent criminals, abusers and mentally ill people to obtain guns.
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.
Response to shooting: Gillibrand tweeted on Sunday that she was saddened by the shooting. She followed that with tweets on Monday calling congressional inaction on common-sense gun safety measures “unacceptable.” She urged the Senate to pass a bill preventing suspected terrorists from legally being able to buy guns.
Previous gun control record: As a congresswoman for New York’s 20th Congressional District, Gillibrand earned a high rating from the NRA for her more lenient views on gun control. However, those views have shifted, and as a senator she has supported tighter gun regulation measures, including banning high capacity ammunition firearms, according to ontheissues.org.
Gillibrand’s office did not respond to a request for comment Monday regarding her past record on gun issues.
Wendy Long, GOP candidate running against Schumer
Response to shooting: Long released a statement on Monday saying the Orlando shooting is a matter of Islamic jihad, and said Democratic leaders won’t acknowledge it. She called Schumer a “poster boy for all that is wrong with our policies,” and said his gun control measures wouldn’t have disarmed the shooter in Orlando.
Previous gun control record: While Long doesn’t have a voting record on the issue, she said her stance remains unchanged after the shooting in Orlando.
“I think we need to uphold the Second Amendment, and if we did we’d be a lot safer,” she said in an interview on Monday.
Long said the right to bear arms is one of the greatest protections Americans have. “I just think, what if one or two people were carrying a firearm and immediately jumped into action?” she said. “How many lives could’ve been saved?”
Reach Gazette reporter Brett Samuels 395-3113, [email protected] or @Brett_Samuels27.