Baraka calls on N.J. mayors to unite around safe gun tech

By Michael Anthony Adams | NJ Advance Media, for NJ.com
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on October 12, 2016

 

Mayor Ras J. Baraka, joined by members of clergy and bi-partisan groups, makes a plea to other NJ mayors to call on gun manufacturers to employ smart gun technology10/06/2016

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NEWARK — Mayor Ras J. Baraka has a message for the country's gun manufacturers: start employing safe weapons technologies, or the City of Newark will take its business elsewhere.

Surrounded by clergy and bi-partisan groups on the steps of Newark City Hall Thursday afternoon, Baraka called on all New Jersey mayors to convene before purchasing additional weapons for their law enforcement agencies and create a list of manufacturers who are listening to their concerns, chiefly: safer gun distribution practices and technologies.

"We put our money in places, with people who support what we think is right for our community," Baraka told NJ Advance Media following the press conference. "You're talking about over 560 municipalities in the State of New Jersey. If we can get a quarter of them to say, 'Look, we agree with this, and we're not going to purchase bullets, guns or whatever from these four or five manufactures until (they) do what we ask them to do.'"

One such technology is the "smart gun," a firearm programmed to be used only by the owner.

State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen), who joined the mayor Thursday, sponsored a bill last year that attempted to repeal a 2002 law requiring New Jersey firearms dealers to sell only smart guns three years after they are available on the market.

Because of the restrictiveness of the 2002 law, some 2nd Amendment activists attempted to thwart the advancement of smart gun technology, according to reports.

In a 2014 interview with MSNBC, Weinberg said would introduce a new bill to repeal the 2002 law if the National Rifle Association would agree not to stand in the way of smart gun technology.

Weinberg's bill would have required retailers that sell guns to carry at least one smart gun in their inventory three years after they're vetted by state authorities and are on the market, but they could also continue to sell traditional weapons.

Gov. Chris Christie vetoed the bill earlier this year, but Weinberg said she's not done fighting.

"I'm one of those grandmothers (who's sick and tired of being sick and tired)," Weinberg told those who'd gathered in front of city hall. "But I'm not so sick and tired to continue the work that needs to be done."

Representatives from the "Do Not Stand Idly By" campaign, which works to enact social change to strengthen local communities, also attended the press conference to reiterate its mission to work with local jurisdictions, like Newark, to use public purchasing power as a way to force gun manufacturers to do more.

According to a release from the campaign's parent organization, Industrial Areas Foundation, leaders of 104 municipalities (including 24 in New Jersey), counties and states have signed on to the movement. These jurisdictions, the release said, represent 40% of the gun market in the United States.

But when asked whether he'd forgo buying anymore guns until his demands were met, Baraka said that'd be unrealistic.

"We obviously have to buy guns," Baraka said. "What we want to do is unite with other mayors around the state to come up with some sensible demands for gun manufactures."

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