Malverne police Chief John Aresta knows what guns can do in the wrong hands. He lost one of his closest friends in law enforcement to a shooting, and his uncle was a victim of the Long Island Rail Road mass shooting by gunman Colin Ferguson.
Aresta will join Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola) at President Barack Obama's State of the Union address in Washington Tuesday to show solidarity with supporters of stronger gun control laws.
He is among more than 20 people affected by gun violence who will attend the speech -- and hold a rally at the U.S. Capitol -- as part of an effort organized by McCarthy and other members of Congress. The campaign was inspired in part by the Newtown, Conn., school shootings, organizers said.
Aresta, a 23-year Malverne officer who also worked for the New York Police Department for five years, said he supports efforts by Democrats Obama and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to strengthen gun control though he is a Republican.
"I am all for the Second Amendment. However, I don't believe when our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, they had any idea what kind of weapons we would be using today," he said.
Aresta, of Malverne, lost his NYPD partner -- Jeffrey Herman of Seaford -- when he was killed in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, responding to a disturbance. Aresta's uncle, James Gorycki of Mineola, was one of six people killed by Ferguson in 1993.
Another of Ferguson's victims was Dennis McCarthy of Mineola -- Rep. McCarthy's husband. Her son, Kevin, was also severely wounded.
McCarthy said she chose to give her State of the Union guest pass to Aresta because he "knows the effects of weak federal public safety laws better than anyone."
She added: "I'm so grateful to have his help in sending a message to Congress that the failure to reduce gun violence has real-life consequences for all Americans, uniformed heroes and civilians alike."
McCarthy, Aresta and a group of members of Congress and their guests will hold a news conference about gun violence at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Gabriel Zimmerman Meeting Room in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center. ___