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Deputy Mayor of Strategic Initiatives for Police Services/Public Safety Brian O’Hara attended the July 11 White House South Lawn event celebrating the first major bipartisan gun legislation passed in close to 30 years. President Joe Biden signed the Safer Communities Act into law on June 25.

The new Federal law aims to reduce national gun violence and will require enhanced background checks for gun sales, criminalizes gun trafficking and straw purchases, and clarifies who needs to register as a federal licensed gun dealer. It also provides $750 million funding for crisis intervention and red-flag laws so that a parent, teacher, or counselor can flag for the court a student, child, or patient who is exhibiting violent tendencies, threatening classmates, or experiencing suicidal thoughts that makes them a danger to themselves and to others. Additionally, it provides $75 million in federal funding for mental health resources.

“We know that gun violence has far reaching implications, affecting the quality of life of communities across the country. The passing of this bipartisan legislation is a big win in enacting sensible gun laws to rein in the violence and make our communities safer for our families and for society,” Mayor Baraka said. “We are proud that Deputy Mayor O’Hara was at this event to represent Newark and will continue to advocate for state and federal laws to address gun violence and prevent it from taking place.”

At the event, members of the Cabinet and Congress, people working on community-based anti-violence programs, representatives of communities that had suffered recent mass shooting incidents, such as Uvalde, Texas; Highland Park, Illinois; and Buffalo, New York; as well as survivors and family members of these incidents, were in attendance.

At the ceremony, President Biden noted the vast number of mass shooting incidents nationwide since the ban on assault weapon sales was lifted in 2004. “Guns are the number one killer of children in the United States. More than car accidents. More than cancer. And over the last two decades, more school-age children have died from gun shots than on-duty police officers and active-duty military combined. Think of that. We can’t just stand by. We can’t let it happen any longer,” President Biden said.

“Together, we gather with many of the leaders who made this law a reality. To the friends and family members of the victims of gun violence: In the face of so much pain, you have shown incredible strength, and it is a profound honor to stand with you today,” said Vice President Kamala Harris.

“It was an honor to participate in an event marking the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the first major gun control legislation passed in 30 years. Although there remains work to be done, I believe this legislation is crucially important to Mayor Baraka’s vision to enhance community safety and save lives from the scourge of gun violence,” said Deputy Mayor O’Hara. It was the second time he was invited to the White House, in recognition of the public safety achievements of the Baraka administration.

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