Engel Meets with Gun Violence Advocate Shai Stephenson in Mount Vernon

Engel Meets with Gun Violence Advocate Shai Stephenson in Mount Vernon


Westchester, NY—Marking the one year anniversary of the tragic Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, Congressman Eliot Engel, a member of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, met in his Mount Vernon office yesterday with Shai Stephenson, a Yonkers resident and Bronx teacher who is on a hunger strike protesting congressional inaction on gun violence. Congressman Engel offered the following statement after the meeting:

I met with Shai over this past weekend in my Mount Vernon office, on the one year anniversary of the Tragic Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh. Shai is a Bronx teacher, a Yonkers native, and she is on a hunger strike to protest the national inaction on gun violence. I felt it was important to meet with Shai to listen to her story and discuss solutions at the federal level. Her dedication is an inspiration.

“Following the horrific shootings in El Paso and Dayton earlier this year, Shai had seen enough. She felt like she had to do something to counter the scourge of gun violence. So she began her hunger strike in September. On October 1st, she went to a fully liquid diet. Desperate times, Shai says, call for desperate measures. She knows there are those of us in Congress fighting for sensible gun safety laws. But the Senate continues to block every measure we pass, choosing the NRA over the health and wellbeing of the American people.

“So, Shai made a choice. She’s making a choice, she says, for all the people whose choices have been taken away by gun violence. She has put her body on the line in hopes that in can spur change. Soon, she will switch to only water.

“What Shai is doing is beyond commendable. It’s courageous. Her students are very lucky to have such a dedicated educator. I am very proud to represent such an extraordinary constituent. Still, it’s sad that is has come to something like this in the U.S. Why haven’t the thousands killed by guns been enough for us to take action? This shouldn’t be hard. Tougher background checks, stricter gun laws shouldn’t be hard. We banned assault weapons before and it saved lives. Why can’t we do it again?

“We need real action, and we need it now. I support reinstituting the assault weapons ban, stronger background checks, and I have authored a bill with Rep. Jayapal which would create new regulations for gun safes and locks. I will continue to do all I can to stand up for my constituents like Shai, and advocate for stronger laws to protect my fellow Americans from the scourge of gun violence.”











PHOTO CREDIT: Office of Congressman Engel