Feature photo courtesy of Sen. Bob Menendez Office
AC JosepH Media
JERSEY CITY – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-N.J.) were joined on Thursday, June 3, by students, teachers and gun safety advocates in a rally for strong federal gun legislation following the recent mass shootings in Buffalo, N.Y., Uvalde, Texas, and Tulsa, Okla. According to the Gun Violence Archive, in 2022, at least 653 children and teens in the U.S. have been killed by guns. Another 1,609 children and teens have been injured by firearms.
Prior to the rally, the Senators held a private meeting with a group of student leaders at Memorial High School to hear from them about the impacts of gun violence and what changes they hope to see.
“We are going beyond thoughts and prayers – we are advocating for action. What kind of nation are we if we cannot protect our children from being gunned down in their classrooms?” said Menendez.
“Guns – especially assault weapons equipped with high-capacity magazines – do not belong in our schools. They do not belong in our supermarkets and movie theaters. They do not belong on our streets. Common sense legislation such as HR8 that would expand background checks and reinstating the assault weapons ban – these are measures that work and there is simply no earthly reason why Congress has failed to enact these bills that are supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans.”
“Students, educators, parents, and advocates are on the frontlines of the fight against a powerful gun lobby and I am proud to join them as we work together to pass commonsense reform,” said Sen. Booker. “This includes legislation to expand background checks, implement extreme risk protection order laws, and require federal firearm licensing. These proven measures, supported by a majority of Americans, will help keep communities safe and ensure that the horrific scenes we witnessed the past few weeks are not repeated in the future.”
“Protecting the health and safety of our future generations has never been more important than right now. It is our duty to ensure that our youth have safe places to learn, play and grow,” said West New York Mayor Gabriel Rodriguez.
“Schools across this this great nation have always been that place, until now. We must do better now. Our hearts go out to all the families who have been affected and forever changed by the senseless acts of violence in our schools. Our hearts and prayers are with Uvalde.”
“I refuse to accept the excuse that America’s gun problem is too big to tackle,” said NJEA President Sean M. Spiller. “When our children’s lives are at stake, we cannot stand for excuses or inaction. We need leaders with the courage to prioritize our children and communities over powerful special interests. Those of us who value our children’s lives are going to use our voices and our votes to overwhelm the money and back-room dealing of those who think the deadly status quo is ok.”
“Senators Booker and Menendez know the American people aren’t asking for much — they just want to go to the grocery store, send their kids to school, go to church, and walk the streets without getting shot down. If their colleagues refuse to meet that basic need, this country is in deep trouble,” said John Feinblatt, President of Everytown for Gun Safety.
“We are here today to raise awareness within our community about the effects of gun violence. Even though our community has not experienced an immediate threat, our students and staff do experience the psychological effects of the numerous school shootings taking part in our nation,” said Francisca Sanchez, a teacher at Memorial High School in West New York. “We might be hundreds of miles from Uvalde, Texas but we feel their loss. School is supposed to be a safe haven. It is our duty to advocate for gun measures that will keep our students safe. It is my hope that our students will use their feelings and passion to continue to keep this issue at the forefront and push for meaningful change.”
National Gun Violence Awareness Day, also known as #WearOrange Day, is being recognized this year on Friday, June 3, 2022.
The rally comes as the Senators prepare to return to Washington, D.C. next week where they will continue to demand that Republicans join Democrats in passing strong federal legislation to reduce the senseless number of gun deaths in the United States.
Sens. Menendez and Booker have long been advocating for stronger federal gun legislation. In May, the Senators reintroduced the Federal Firearm Licensing Act, legislation that would require individuals to obtain a firearm license from the Department of Justice (DOJ) before purchasing or receiving a firearm. Earlier this year, Sen. Menendez called on YouTube to remove videos that instruct viewers on how to manufacture and assembly unserialized, untraceable and undetectable ghost guns. Last June, Sen. Menendez introduced the 3D Printed Gun Safety Act, which would prohibit the online distribution of blueprints and instructions that allow for the 3D printing of firearms.
Last April, Sen. Menendez reintroduced the Keep Americans Safe Act, which would ban the importation, sale, manufacturing, transfer, or possession of high-capacity gun magazines that hold more than ten rounds of ammunition. These high-capacity magazines are designed for shooting and killing en masse and have been the accessory of choice in some of the bloodiest mass shootings in America.
Sen. Menendez also introduced the Untraceable Firearms Act last year, which would ban ghost guns by permanently including unfinished frames and receivers – the core building blocks of ghost guns – in the definition of “firearm” under federal law. As the demand for DIY firearms spiked during the pandemic, Sen. Menendez called on the Biden Administration to take executive action to close the ghost gun loophole.
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