The Jersey City Council passed a resolution in support of recognizing Gun Violence Awareness Day, as well as a measure that supports state legislation to create more gun ownership restrictions, at last night’s meeting.
By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
The first measure, sponsored by Ward E Councilman James Solomon and Ward F Councilman Frank “Educational” Gilmore, would designate the first Friday in June as Gun Violence Awareness Day.
“These mass murders are truly tragic and heart-wrenching. They occupy the media’s attention, and then it fades away, and it’s the people doing this work every day that are the heroes. So, it’s important we call attention to gun violence,” Solomon said to applause.
He also thanked those who have been working to prevent gun violence.
“I think this is a step in the right direction just to highlight gun violence, especially on the local level. We lose a lot of individuals in Jersey City to gun violence. We get a lot of collateral damage. No amount of money can compensate you for the work you do,” Gilmore said to applause as well.
The measure passed unanimously (8-0) and others from the dais weighed in before voting aye.
“There has not been a single week this year in which we haven’t had one mass shooting,” said Councilwoman-at-Large Amy DeGise.
“Jersey City is proud of you,” Councilman-at-Large Daniel Rivera said to Jersey City Anti-Violence Coalition Movement Executive Director Pamela Johnson.
According to the resolution, every day more than 110 Americans are killed by guns while more than 200 who are shot and wounded, and on average, there are nearly 16,000 fatal shootings per year.
Additionally, it says that Americans are 26 times more likely to die from gun homicide than people in other high-income countries.
The council lauded the work done by the JCAVCM, Hudson Partnership CMO, and the Jersey City Medical Center.
“Ever since I met you, you’ve always been in the trenches. I understand when you started the program, and nobody believed it … I believe the best is yet to come,” Watterman said to Johnson.
“I am happy to be here with some of our team, and I say thank you. We all have to make an impact in whatever that passion or calling is,” Johnson said.
In addition to the Gun Violence Day resolution, the council passed a measure sponsored by Ward B Councilwoman Mira Prinz-Arey supporting Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D) package of gun safety reform bills.
The legislation includes establishing electronic ammunition sales record keeping, closing loopholes for importing out-of-state guns, increasing violence intervention funding, requiring firearm safety training, mandating safe storage of firearms, and raising the minimum age to purchase long guns.
“The comprehensive gun reform bill was first introduced in 2021, and it has sat in the state legislature. It’s time we moved these gun measures forward. A lot of guns come through, and that’s what part of the problem is,” Prinz-Arey said.
Ward D Councilman Yousef Saleh noted that Murphy has been a nationwide leader against gun violence.
“We as a legislature need to back those kinds of initiatives supported in order to support those groups that are fighting gun violence,” he said.
Everyone else on the council appeared to be on the same page.
“A lot of work has to be done. I am happy the state and city will be at the front of that,” DeGise said.
“This is important. We all know that gun violence is going on in the country. We would just hope the federal legislature would act,” Watterman said.
The measure was also approved unanimously (8-0), with Ward C Councilman Rich Boggiano absent.
New Jersey has the eighth strongest gun laws in the country and the third-lowest rate of firearm death in the country, and the lowest rate of firearm ownership at nine percent, according to the resolution.