Newark Mayor Joins State Senators to Address Gun Violence After Mass Shootings

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka joined Sens. Cory Booker and Robert Menendez on March 26 at Branch Brook Park to call on reform for gun violence.

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NEWARK, NJ – In the wake of two mass shootings, one in Georgia and another in Colorado which claimed the lives of 18 people, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka on Friday joined Sens. Cory Booker and Robert Menendez to address the issue of gun violence at a local level. 

Calling on Congress and President Joe Biden’s administration to take action against the matter in communities, the mayor and state legislators gathered at Branch Brook Park in Newark to advocate for common-sense gun law reform. 

“This is like a broken record. We have to have these over and over again because mass shootings are happening all over the country,” Baraka said. “There is no difference of a person going into a school or into a spa, shooting innocent people with an AR-15 and a kid getting their hands on an AR-15 or AK-47 on Clinton Avenue, Avon Avenue or Bloomfield Avenue here in the city of Newark, and committing homicide in these cities with guns that are not manufactured on the corner of their streets.”

Friday’s call to action follows Booker’s recent participation in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence and proposed safety reforms just days after the two recent mass shootings. 

“We are not fulfilling our mandate. We do not have domestic tranquility,” the former Newark mayor said during the hearing. “We do not have a common defense, with death levels that no one country is seeing.”

On Thursday, Menendez introduced the Gun Records Restoration and Preservation Act, which Booker cosponsored, that would repeal the Tiahrt Amendments – provisions that hamstring law enforcement’s ability to solve and prosecute gun crimes, stop illegal gun trafficking and hold negligent gun dealers and owners accountable, and provide special protections to the gun industry that compromise public safety. 

Reflecting on one of the most notable tragedies during his tenure as mayor of Newark, Booker on Friday cited the killing of three young individuals that were lined up against a schoolyard wall and shot dead at Ivy Hill Park in 2007 and critically injuring another.

As an advocate of gun law reform, the senator during his 2020 presidential campaign trail called for requiring a license to buy and own a firearm, a move aimed to reduce the population of gun owners. 

Although New Jersey has the third-lowest incidents of gun violence in America, hundreds are still killed by gun violence each year with thousands injured, the senator said. 

“This is not an inevitable destiny. It is a policy choice,” he said. 

Aiming to stymie the issue at a local level, Newark is coming off a year where officials reported that its police division did not fire a single shot in 2020. That same year, Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose announced that police recovered 496 illegal firearms. 

The result could be credited to a consent decree agreement that Newark police and the U.S. Department of Justice entered into in 2016. The agreement served as a shift for the city’s authorities to improve their quality of policing through various facets of training and reforms. 

“This is proof-positive that our de-escalation training is highly effective,” Ambrose said in a statement. “Our officers have embraced de-escalation training and are actively employing this resource when engaging with the community.” 

As local officials aim to reduce gun-related violence and call on legislators to take action, the Newark mayor commended the senators for their efforts to bring common-sense gun reform laws to the table. 

“It needs to happen now. It is a sense of urgency for us,” he said.

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published this page in News and Politics 2021-03-27 02:28:31 -0700