Tag Archives: Sandy Hook shooting

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Partly cloudy. High of 37 with a windchill as low as 16F. Winds from the West at 5 to 15 mph. Monday night: Mostly cloudy in the evening, then overcast. Low of 34 with a windchill as low as 27F. Winds from the SW at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: The Art of Ink in America 2013/2014: Gesture and Beyond, An East/West Exhibition of Contemporary Calligraphy

The exhibit includes approximately 50 new works by 32 and five invited artists and consists of abstract and avant-garde pieces, which show the many different forms and innovative techniques available to contemporary ink painters. On view at Queen College’s Godwin-Ternbach Museum through December 30. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Man shot, killed in Jamaica

A 47-year-old was fatally shot in the head on 107th Avenue in Jamaica around 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, said police. Read more: The Queens Courier

Bird strike reported at JFK Airport

There was a scare upon landing Sunday night for a flight full of passengers approaching JFK Airport, as the plane was hit by two birds. Read more: ABC New York

Hearing set for proposed New York City foam container ban

The future of plastic-foam food containers in takeout-loving New York City is up for debate. Read more: NBC New York

Schumer seeks to pull plug on robocalls

Sen. Charles Schumer is introducing legislation to try to curb an increasing number of unwanted telemarketing calls. Read more: CBS New York/AP

Mayor Ed Koch’s letters to be auctioned

During his reign as mayor of New York and for years after, Ed Koch corresponded with heads of state and other dignitaries. Read more: AP

 Investigators to release report on Sandy Hook shooting

Investigators are planning to release a long-awaited report on the Newtown, Conn. school shooting, nearly a year after the massacre of 20 children and six women inside Sandy Hook Elementary School. Read more: NBC New York

 

Sunnyside holds fundraiser for Sandy Hook victim


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photo

Although distance now separates them, the Sunnyside community came together last weekend to show the Wheeler family they are not alone in their tragic loss.

Through the planning of Sunnymoms, a group of local parents who get together and share tips, and other members of the Sunnyside community, around 300 people came together on Saturday, February 23 to enjoy an evening of food, music and family activities all contributing to the Wheeler Family Fundraiser and honoring the memory of Ben Wheeler, killed inside Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The Wheelers were active and loved members of the Sunnyside community who moved to Newton, Connecticut four years ago with their sons Nate and Ben. Francine Wheeler was one of the founding members of Sunnymoms.
“We just wanted to help out the best way we know how,” said family friend Roger Hitts, who helped coordinate the event. “Our hearts break for them and we weren’t going to leave it at that.”

The Sunnyside Community Center was filled with families of young and old looking to help out the Wheelers while sharing a night of food and music with friends and family. Many Sunnyside restaurants donated food while other business donated services and items for the raffle and live auction.

“We’re such a tight community here so we thought we’d come and help out,” said Diana Dumitru, 29, who attended the event with her husband and son. “I know the people that organized this event really put their heart into it.”

Live music from entertainers Richard Younger and Allison Tartalia filled the room while children danced the night away or spent time at the “Children’s Corner” where they could get their faces and nails painted.

“It’s fantastic to see the community come together,” said Gail Griffin who enjoyed the night with her son and daughter. “We’re a very tight-knit community and want to do as much as we can for them.”

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer attended the event and held the live auction where he included JetBlue tickets for two lucky guests. All monies raised will go to the Ben Wheeler Fund. It was unsure as of press time how much was collected.

Although the family was not able to attend the event Saturday night, they felt the love from their native community and were moved and thankful for their friends and the community at large.

“We are grateful and deeply moved at the generosity of our friends and former neighbors in the very special community of Sunnyside. The love for Ben and the support for our family shown by the Sunnymoms and their families and friends connects us to these important people forever,” said Francine, David and Nate Wheeler.

 

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

 

 

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Op-Ed: Essential steps in the fight against gun violence


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Peralta new

BY STATE SENATOR JOSE PERALTA

As the sponsor of 14 gun bills, I couldn’t be happier to see long overdue action fi nally taken on common-sense measures to protect New Yorkers from gun violence.

From revoking the gun permits and confi scating the fi rearms of domestic abusers and the mentally ill, to requiring background checks and law enforcement oversight for private gun sales and ammunition purchases, to requiring periodic statewide recertifi cation of gun licenses, a good deal of the legislation I have sponsored and fought for is in this package.

After what we saw happen in Newtown, Connecticut, and in Rochester, strengthening New York’s assault weapons ban became an urgent and pressing priority. And we are adopting perhaps the toughest assault weapons ban in the country.

I applaud the governor for his perseverance and commitment. Above all, I want to thank him for his leadership. Making it harder for criminals to get guns, and keeping fi rearms out of the hands of the mentally ill, are essential steps in the fight against gun violence.

We also need to make it easier for law enforcement to put gun criminals in jail by making use of available technology.

That’s why we need to require microstamping, a simple, inexpensive technology that stamps a code—invisible to the naked eye—on the shell casings ejected when a gun is fired.

The microstamps on recovered shell casings give law enforcement the ability to identify a gun used in a crime and determine where and when it was purchased and who bought it.

Not surprisingly, my bill requiring that handguns made or sold in New York be equipped with microstamping technology has the support of police and prosecutors throughout the state.

And there’s absolutely no logical, coherent reason for not requiring microstamping in New York—or at least not one that has been articulated yet.

We’re told that requiring microstamping would put our state’s gun manufacturers out of business. Yet one of the reasons we needed to toughen New York’s assault weapons ban is because many high-powered rifl es now in production are exempt from the current ban.

Why? Because manufacturers altered their products to circumvent the law.

So ignoring the law is profi table, but complying with a microstamping requirement would be bad for business?

That’s a business model that has no business in New York.

In addition to making it harder for criminals to get guns, we need to make it easier for law enforcement to put gun criminals in jail. Longer jail sentences won’t make a difference if we’re not catching the people who need to be locked up.

And please: Let’s not waste any more time on the nonsense that a microscopic code on a shell casing constitutes an assault on the Second Amendment rights of sportsmen and law-abiding gun owners.

New Yorkers deserve better than that. Especially those waiting on justice for a loved one lost to gun violence.

Senator Jose Peralta serves on the Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee. He represents the communities of Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Corona, Jackson Heights and Astoria.

 

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LI girl joins president for gun reform announcement


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Official White House photo by Lawrence Jackson

When President Obama announced his plan to reduce gun violence Wednesday, he was joined by children from around the country who wrote him letters after the Sandy Hook tragedy expressing their concerns about gun violence and school safety.

One of those children was Hinna Zeejah, a third-grader from Oceanside, Long Island.

According to Newsday, when Zeejah asked her parents “why we have guns” they told her to ask the president.

“I just wanted to tell you that I feel really sad. Also I feel terrible for the parents who lost their children,” the eight-year-old wrote in her letter. “Mr. President, can we do something which will STOP all these terrible problems?”

In this video posted by the White House, third grader Hinna Zeejah reads the letter she wrote to President Obama.

 

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President calls for stronger gun laws following recent mass shootings


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Screenshot/whitehouse.gov

The day after New York passed some of the nation’s toughest gun laws, President Barack Obama signed a package of 23 executive orders that set parameters to reduce gun violence in the wake of several devastating shootings last year.

Seeking the recommendations of Vice President Joe Biden, the president put forth a push for background checks to prevent criminals from accessing firearms, school support for resource officers to work on emergency preparedness and guides for mental health workers with spotting and reporting threats of violence.

“[I] will sit at that desk,” he said, “and I will sign a directive giving law enforcement, schools, mental health professionals and the public health community some of the tools they need to help reduce gun violence.”

Obama announced the plan 33 days after the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown. In attendance were children from across the country who wrote the president asking for stronger gun laws.

The president also suggested banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Gun clips, more than assault weapons, have been associated with mass shootings over the last few years.

Unlike the new New York law, which limits a magazine round to seven bullets, the executive directive suggests capping clips at 10 rounds – going back to the law under a 1994 to 2004 assault weapons ban.

Despite allegations that the presidents plans would go against the Second Amendment, Obama said these orders were targeted at illegal gun ownership and the violence it can cause.

“I also believe most gun owners agree that we can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible, law-breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale,” he said. “I believe most of them agree that if America worked harder to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, there would be fewer atrocities like the one that occurred in Newtown.  That’s what these reforms are designed to do.  They’re common-sense measures.  They have the support of the majority of the American people.”

It’s now up to Congress, Obama said, to require universal background checks and enforce a magazine limit that will keep the country safer. But to make Congress act and approve these limits, the American people have to speak, especially in districts with a strong pro-gun lobby.

“We’re going to need voices in those areas, in those congressional districts, where the tradition of gun ownership is strong to speak up and to say this is important.  It can’t just be the usual suspects.  We have to examine ourselves and our hearts, and ask ourselves what is important.”

 

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At Queens shooting range, assault weapons not a concern


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Terence M. Cullen

When the Woodhaven Rifle and Pistol Range opened 40 years ago, the scope of weapons patrons used was varied.

But for the past 20 years, because of the city’s and state’s ban on assault weapons, owner Don Spallone says high-powered guns are not a concern in the borough — unlike in other parts of the country.

“We’ve had the assault weapons ban since 1993,” said Spallone. “So we don’t really have that situation here.”

Shooting ranges garnered national attention after news broke that Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza was taken to a Connecticut range by his mother, where the two would practice.

While the weapons used at the Woodhaven range — one of three in Queens — might vary, it is impossible to use an assault weapon at a range in the city.

Spallone said all sorts of gun owners come through his doors. Many, he said, start out seeking protection but later develop an interest as shooting as a sport.

On any given day, Spallone says patrons can include doctors, teachers and police officers who come in to either practice or test their weapons.

On concerns of continued gun violence in the city, Spallone said comparing the operations of a shooting range to illegal crimes would be like putting a pharmacist against a drug dealer. As a licensed firearms salesman, Spallone said he could not speak for why people might opt to illegally purchase a gun.

“I don’t know anything about that because I deal at the legitimate level,” he said.

But while the range is frequented by what Spallone calls a “United Nations,” restrictions against handgun licenses in the city are among the strictest in the country. It normally takes an applicant six months from being fingerprinted to getting approved for a pistol permit. During that time, the potential gun owner must go through a series of safety classes, usually offered at ranges.

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NY newspaper publishes controversial map of local gun owners


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Screenshot/www.lohud.com

A New York newspaper is receiving criticism for posting an online map of gun permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties as the country debates firearm control following the Sandy Hook shooting.

On its website this Saturday, The Journal News, using data gathered from Freedom of Information requests and Google Maps, published the names and addresses of individuals with permits to own a pistol or revolver, along with an article called “The gun owner next door: What you don’t know about the weapons in your neighborhood.”

The Journal News is still awaiting information from gun owners in Putnam County and did not include those with rifles or shotguns since they can be purchased without a permit.

Despite the calls for stricter gun laws, the paper has experienced a lot of backlash from those angry about privacy violations.

Many of those who commented on the article said the interactive map’s publication was irresponsible reporting, and some even called for the publication of the names and addresses of Journal News employees.

“Do you fools realize that you also made a map for criminals to use to find homes to rob that have no guns in them to protect themselves?” said one commenter.

“You have just destroyed the privacy of these law abiding citizens and by releasing this list, you have equated them to that of sex offenders and murders,” wrote another.

In a statement responding to the outrage, The Journal News told ABC News that its readers “are understandably interested to know about guns in their neighborhoods,” because of the conversation about gun control following the shooting in Newtown, Conn.

What do you think of The Journal News’ publication of the names and addresses of local gun permit holders? Do you think it should have put the information online?

 

 

 

 

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Overcast with rain, then a chance of rain in the afternoon. Fog early. High of 55. Winds from the South at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 50%. Tuesday night: Overcast in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 41. Breezy. Winds from the WNW at 20 to 25 mph with gusts to 30 mph.

EVENT of the DAY: Sandy Hook March and Candlelight Vigil 

We come together to mourn the loss of the children and educators who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday, December 14. Among them was 6-year-old Benjamin Andrew Wheeler, son of Francine and David Cole Wheeler, and brother of Nate. Francine resided with us in Sunnyside and, while raising her babies, was instrumental in the formation of a community of young mothers here. We will also gather to support the grieving family of Principal Dawn Hochsprung, who lost her life in a valiant attempt to save her students and colleagues. Please join as we honor them. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Political fight begins in U.S. Senate over Superstorm Sandy aid package

Democrats in the U.S. Senate on Monday began trying to push the $60.4 billion emergency spending plan for Superstorm Sandy victims through Congress by Christmas. Read more: CBS New York

Boy arrested in threat that sent school into lockout

Authorities say a 13-year-old boy has been arrested in connection with an Internet threat that sent Westbury Middle School on Long Island into lockout mode Monday. Read more: NBC New York

Getting books back into the hands of Sandy storm victims in Rockaway

Curling up with a good book has become a luxury for victims of Superstorm Sandy in Rockaway. Adults and children alike lost most of their personal possessions, including beloved book collections built over generations, in a mix of flood waters, sand and fire. Read more: New York Daily News

LIPA trustees vote to hold rates steady

Despite a possible $950 million repair bill from Superstorm Sandy, the Long Island Power Authority will not be raising rates. Read more: Fox New York

Sunnyside man stabbed to death on Staten Island

A Sunnyside man was stabbed to death by his girlfriend’s father, police say, after the two argued during a booze-fueled gathering inside his home early Monday morning. Read more: SILive.com

Newtown students to return to classes in wake of school massacre

The schools of Newtown, which stood empty in the wake of a shooting rampage that took 26 of their own, will again ring with the sounds of students and teachers on Tuesday as the bucolic Connecticut town struggles to return to normal. Read more: Reuters