This past Wednesday, April 11th, Roselle Park Mayor Carl Hokanson took part in “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” signing ceremony along with over a dozen other mayors from Union County and the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders. The event was held at the Hamilton Stage For The Performing Arts in Rahway in front of over 100 people in the audience.
The evening was a joint effort between “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” which was started in 2006 and “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America” which was founded in 2012. In 2014, “Everytown In America” (link) combined both organizations in order to “end gun violence in America” with measures such as more stringent background checks and weapon training as well as supporting stricter gun trafficking laws and advocating to keep firearms out of the hands of those convicted of domestic abuse. Both “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” and “Everytown In America” were founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Almost two months after the latest school mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, the speakers addressed the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting as well as the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, Pulse Nightclub shooting, and Sutherland Springs church shooting along with suicide with a firearm and other incidents of gun violence.
Mayor Hokanson was the only head of a municipality that night who was introduced as both a former police lieutenant and Marine Corps Vietnam veteran. Mayor Hokanson signed his first Mayors Against Illegal Guns in 2016 and declared June 2nd of that year “Gun Violence Awareness Day” in the borough.
During his six-minute statement, the head of Roselle Park addressed a range of actions that could be taken to address gun violence. He started out by saying while bringing out his cellphone, “If I sit here and start dialing, I can call my relatives anywhere in the world within a matter of seconds. It’s amazing that we cannot talk to each other in this country when somebody goes in and buys a gun, for a background check [or] mental illness. It’s amazing. We’ve got the technology right here, folks, and we don’t use it.”
He went on to mention having better communication between federal and local agencies and addressing assault-style weapons. The mayor even relayed to those in attendance that just that afternoon he heard that Bank of America will stop financing some makers of military-style firearms. He stated that people, especially young people, need to speak up when they become aware of potentially dangerous behavior in others, adding, “As a former police officer, we need to hear that. I don’t want to put my law enforcement officers in jeopardy.”
Before speaking, Mayor Hokanson signed his name and wrote out AR-15 then circled it and put a slash through it to signify his position of assault-style weapons not being a necessity in the general public.
Click each for an enlarged view.
An audio of his entire speech is available below: