Borough Council Recognizes June 3rd as Gun Violence Awareness Day

By MARIANNE IVERS in TAPintoNewProvidence

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – With a sad coincidence the Borough Council issued a proclamation to recognize National Gun Violence Day at its Tuesday, May 24 meeting just as news of yet another school shooting spread across the nation. Mayor Al Morgan led a moment of silence to honor the victims of both the Texas school shooting and the May 14 Buffalo supermarket shooting.

Morgan noted that the proclamation is not about the Second Amendment of the Constitution, but about the dangers of illegal guns in the hands of mentally ill or dangerous people. The council fully supports the nation’s constitution, he said.

“Every day, more than 110 Americans are killed by gun violence, alongside more than 200 who are shot and wounded, and on average there are nearly 16,000 gun-homicides every year. Americans are 26 times more likely to die by gun homicide than people in other high-income countries,” Morgan read.  There are approximately 439 gun-deaths in New Jersey every year. A majority of gun homicides and assaults are concentrated in cities. New Providence is working to end senseless violence with evidence-based solutions to protect public safety.

The support for the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens goes hand-in-hand with keeping guns away from people with dangerous histories,” the proclamation read. Mayors and law enforcement officers who know their communities best and who are the most familiar with local criminal activity are best positioned to understand how to keep their citizens safe. “Gun violence prevention is more important than ever as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to exacerbate gun violence after more than two years of increased gun sales, increased calls to suicide and domestic violence hotlines, and an increase in city gun violence,” the proclamation stated.

June 3 is National Gun Awareness Day this year and people are encouraged to wear orange that day in tribute to victims of gun violence and the loved ones of those victims. Among the gun violence victims is Hadiya Pendleton who was shot and killed at the age 15. She was born on June 2, 1997 and would be 25 this year. The idea of wearing orange was inspired by a group of Hadiya’s friends who asked her classmates to commemorate her life by wearing orange, the color that hunters wear to announce themselves to other hunters in the woods. The color also symbolizes the value of human life.

The proclamation also announced the commitment of New Providence to reduce gun violence and pledge to do everything possible to keep firearms out of the wrong hands and to encourage responsible gun ownership in order to keep children safe.

Borough Resident Allen Swanson addressed the council in a plea to stop gun violence. He said that he has worked with children who have been victims of gun violence. He pointed out the devastating scars such events leave on children. He also noted that many residents in communities which fell victim to gun violence never thought such tragedies could happen in their community. New Providence could be one of those communities, he said.

“I feel your pain. We all wish it will end,” Morgan responded. However, he noted that New Providence was one of the first communities to install a school resource officer program. He noted that it is hard to prevent “crazy”, but the borough police are well trained to handle difficult situations. He pointed out that oftentimes there are “red flags” prior to these tragic events, but “nothing is being done” to prevent them. He emphasized the importance of having mental health resources available and noted that New Providence has just spearheaded a special Mental Health Awareness and Advocacy Committee.The council appointed Donna Buoscio to the Mental Health Committee. Council President Nadine Geoffroy and Councilwoman Lisa McKnight noted that the committee is looking for more volunteers.