In interview, Baraka calls for stricter national gun laws

By Dan Ivers | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on July 02, 2015

NEWARK – Mayor Ras Baraka has joined a chorus of politicians calling for stronger federal gun policies in the wake of the mass shooting at a Charleston, S.C. church that killed 9 people.

In an interview with HuffPost Live Thursday morning, the mayor said that New Jersey's gun laws – which are among the toughest in the country – had failed to adequately stem the tide of violence that plagues Newark and other cities.

"The problem is that there's no national policy that enforces most of these things," he said, noting that many of the guns used in local shootings have been transported from southern states with looser regulations.

"We need a national gun policy that restricts some of these purchases across state lines. That's extremely important...We have to have the courage to begin to push for those laws."

Baraka's declaration comes as debate over gun laws once again finds a place in the national discourse, spurred largely in Charleston – which claimed the life of a Newark native.

Last month, President Barack Obama called for tighter federal controls, though he acknowledged that the current balance of political power in Washington makes any meaningful legislation unlikely. He made a similar push following the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which ultimately fell short.

The debate has also been fueled by the blossoming presidential race, as candidates stake their positions on the issue and tout their records on 2nd Amendment issues.

Among the hopefuls is Gov. Chris Christie, who recently told a pro-gun crowd in South Carolina that New Jersey's strict regulations preceded his tenure in Trenton, and that he had not signed any such laws since taking office – an assertion his critics call an outright lie aimed at strengthening his support among conservatives.

Baraka took a similar jab in his interview Thursday, saying the governor's words and his record were not quite aligned.

"That's what he says, but policy-wise he's been signing documents to make access to guns a little more difficult," he said.

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