More than 500 protesters rallied around the Nassau County Legislature back in June to call for action against gun violence.
Baldwin resident Nicolette Carrion was one of them. She said her concern for gun laws in America encouraged her to help organize the March for Our Lives demonstration alongside peers from the youth organization Young Long Island for Justice.
Now, Carrion and other activists around the country are facing more push back from the government in the fight for stricter gun laws.
On June 23, the Supreme Court ruled to strike down New York state’s concealed carry laws that have been in place since 1913. The legislation required people to prove that they had “proper cause” to carry a gun in public. Justice Clarence Thomas said that the law prevents citizens from being able to exercise their Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms in public spaces for self-defense purposes.
“If you are a responsible common sense gun owner, you should not be threatened by these gun laws,” said Carrion. “We are trying to keep these deadly weapons away from people who want to use them for harm.”
The decision comes in the wake of mass shootings at a supermarket in Buffalo and at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas. In response to these tragedies, New York lawmakers have introduced new legislation to prevent more violence from taking place. One of the bills in particular bans guns from “sensitive locations” such as government buildings, schools and mass transit.
Sheilly Martinez-Jimenez was another organizer of the March for Our Lives rally. She said that these restrictions could help the situation, but has some reservations.
“I think it’s a step forward if New York is trying to limit the use of guns in certain areas like schools and medical centers, because that’s where a lot of people are,” she said. “But at the same time, just how the [concealed carry] bill was overturned by the Supreme Court, I think it could happen again.”
Additionally, Martinez-Jimenez shared that she is concerned about how the Supreme Court’s decision will impact her own community in Hempstead.
“In Hempstead High School, there’s a metal detector at every entrance,” she said. “Hempstead already has serious gun issues. For people just to be able to go around and carry [a gun], I feel like a lot of people are going to be more terrified.”
Political division is another issue that will be impacted by the changing laws, according to Carrion.
“There are a lot of pro-gun conservatives that happen to also be prejudiced,” she said. “I think, unfortunately, this will empower them.”
Another change that New York officials plan to implement is a 16-hour training program for those who want to receive a concealed carry permit.
“I think 16 hours isn’t enough,” said Sabrina Guo, an organizer from Syosset. “Even if someone has 16 hours to train to use a gun, there needs to be more consequences for people who abuse the Second Amendment and use their rights to harm other people.”
The three youth organizers also proposed ideas that the government should implement in order to put an end to gun violence.
“Gun violence will not get any better with more guns,” said Martinez-Jimenez. “What we need is gun regulation. We need universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons.”
Guo said that it is important to empower the youth to take a stand against issues that they are passionate about, such as gun violence.
“We’re young, we can make mistakes,” she said. “Don’t be afraid. Just remember your core belief and remember what you want to do and what change you want to make and then just go for it.”
Lastly, Carrion said there should be more resources for those struggling with their mental health and substance use disorders.
“There’s a lot of people suffering out there, you don’t even know,” she said. “A focus on destigmatizing mental health…I just think that it will help so many people.”