Gillibrand meets slain teen's family

February 9, 2009 5:58:48 PM PST
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, whose pro-gun voting record has raised hackles among some New Yorkers, promised Monday to work to end gun violence after visiting a Brooklyn high school that is mourning a student killed by random gunfire. "These parents have lived through a terrible tragedy," Gillibrand said after meeting with Jennifer Pryear and Alberto Yard, whose daughter Nyasia Pryear-Yard was killed when a gunman fired into a crowd of teens dancing at a nightclub last month.

Gillibrand, an upstate congresswoman appointed by Gov. David Paterson to fill Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's former Senate seat, has angered some of her fellow Democrats with her voting record, which earned her a 100 percent rating from the National Rifle Association.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, who ran for Congress after her husband was killed and son wounded in the 1993 Long Island Rail Road shooting massacre, has said she would either challenge Gillibrand in the Democratic primary next year or find someone who would.

Since taking over the Senate seat on Jan. 27, Gillibrand has said she favors sensible gun restrictions while at the same time championing hunters' rights.

The visit to Nazareth Regional High School was the latest stop on her get-acquainted tour around the state to introduce herself to new constituents.

Appeal said of Gillibrand, "We'll be watching her."

The teen's parents said they hoped Gillibrand would follow through on promises to fight illegal gun trafficking. "I want to give her the benefit of the doubt," the girl's mother said.

After Paterson announced Gillibrand's appointment last month, Mayor Michael Bloomberg noted his "strong disagreement" with her record on illegal guns. He has said Gillibrand actively opposed many cities' efforts to enact measures that keep illegal guns out of criminals' hands.

Deputy Mayor Edward Skyler said Monday that Bloomberg would soon meet with Gillibrand, "and he will attempt to persuade her that the positions she took as a member of Congress undermine law enforcement's ability to combat illegal gun trafficking and prevent gun crimes."

Asked Monday whether she thought Bloomberg's criticism was unfair, Gillibrand said only that she looked forward to working with him.