June 19, 2013

We need background checks

The National Memo
Why I support universal background checks for gun purchases
Cory Booker - U.S. Senate

In one form or another, the majority of us have been touched by gun violence.

As a mayor, it's been my job to give solace to those most directly impacted. I know what it's like to be the first one on the scene of a violent incident, and I know what it's like to hug a mother whose child is never going to come home again.

I also know that you're probably just as tired as I am of the shootings, and just as frustrated as I am by the gridlock and false debates. Most of us, including most gun owners and Republicans, agree that we urgently need universal background checks for gun sales so we can stop the kind of carnage that's going on all over America.

This week, Vice President Biden is renewing President Obama's push for gun safety legislation, and if you feel the way I do, help build support immediately.

For seven years, I've been calling for background checks. If New Jersey voters send me to the Senate in October, and gun safety legislation is still stalled, I will make it my priority to get it passed.

But I haven't been waiting idly for that day. Instead, I've been doing what I can now as mayor of Newark to make the people of my city safer. In Newark, we raised millions of dollars from private sources to deploy anti-gun crime technologies, including acoustic gunshot detection sensors. This system has helped our police do their jobs better. While there is much work left to do, we have seen an overall drop in shootings and murders since I took office, and milestones including a 43-day period in 2008 without homicides - the longest such span since 1961 - and the first homicide-free calendar month since 1966 back in 2010.

And inspired by the work I had done with the bipartisan coalition Mayor's Against Illegal Guns, I traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with the acting head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to demand help for law enforcement personnel throughout New Jersey that would let them do their jobs better, too -- including sharing more gun trace data that would empower them to go after gun traffickers and problem gun store owners. Thanks to the work of so many mayors, police chiefs, activists, and legislators, these trace data sharing restrictions were lifted in 2009.

These are just a couple examples. Neither is a cure-all. But everybody has the power to do something -- and you can do something right now that has the potential to make an impact:

This won't be easy to accomplish. The NRA is firmly opposed to any progress, and their lobbyists are enormously powerful. But I've always believed that the power of the people is greater than the people in power.
Thank you for joining me today,

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