The world reacted in horror to the shooting spree in which two Colorado students took the lives of 12 classmates and one teacher at Columbine High School. Central Nassau was no different and some community members are taking steps to address the situation, beginning with a phone call to the President of the United States.
Congresswoman, Carolyn McCarthy, (D/I - 4 CD) called President Bill Clinton to discuss the incident and what should be done in its wake, the day the shooting took place.
"When I first heard that the shooting took place, I was in my committee on health care," said McCarthy. An aide interrupted her to tell her the news; her reaction, "Life stands still."
McCarthy has an unfortunate perspective on matters such as this, having her son, Kevin, critically injured and losing her husband, Dennis, to gun violence on the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), in an incident that eventually led her to advocate for gun control and run for Congress.
Both she and the president agreed that the time immediately after the shooting was not a time for policy talk, but, according to McCarthy, the situation has changed.
After the president mentioned her name in his speech, McCarthy's office was flooded with calls, prompting her to join Senator Edward Kennedy, Senator Chuck Schumer and other representatives to push for new gun control legislation.
First introduced in March, the Children's Gun Violence Prevention Act of 1999, addresses the problems in an appropriate manner, according to McCarthy.
The proposed bill imposes new safety standards including a trigger resistance standard, so that handgun triggers could not be fired by a child, and a drop test, where handguns are dropped at different angles from a height of three feet to determine whether they may accidentally fire.
Further safety measures included in the bill are a child safety lock, which precludes unauthorized use; a magazine disconnect safety for pistols, to protect children from leftover bullets in the chamber of a gun; and a manual safety, to prevent guns from being accidentally discharged.
The bill also authorizes the Consumer Product Safety Commission to further study the subject of safety measures and handguns.
Under this law, one would have to be over 18 to purchase an assault weapon and those under the age of 24 would have to show two forms of identification, including one that is government issued, before buying a gun.
Furthermore, gun store owners would be required to maintain minimum safety and security standards to guard against gun thefts.
McCarthy's bill also factors in penalties for those who would break already existing laws. If a dealer willfully sold a gun to a juvenile he or she would be issued a fine of up to $10,000 and would face up to a year in prison if a child gains access to a loaded firearm and uses it in an act of violence.
The bill would create an education program and a grant program for the tracing of guns in juvenile crimes and a children's firearm injury surveillance system with $25 million authorized by the bill.
While the promotion of this legislature will take some time, McCarthy advises the community to stay calm.
"I don't want to see panic, because that scares the kids," said McCarthy.
Though some schools do have inside security, local districts have not yet indicated that they believe such a measure is necessary.
Echoed in the sentiments and actions of McCarthy, members of local communities feel for the people of Colorado and strive so that no one ever experiences such pain again.