Boston’s Mayor Marty Walsh joined Boston Police Commissioner William Evans on Tuesday in a trip to Washington, D.C. to address the White House State and Local Gun Violence Prevention Convening. The trip came just hours after the town of Auburn Police Department announced the line of duty death of Officer Ronald Tarentino, Jr., who was fatally shot during a routine traffic stop on May 22.
“Gun violence is one of the defining challenges of our time. We know that in order to get illegal guns off of streets and out of the wrong hands, we must work with our regional and national partners on commonsense strategies that work.” –Mayor Marty Walsh (Boston, Massachusetts)
Officer Tarentino’s death was followed by a joint law enforcement operation that saw the suspect in his killing, located and fatally wounded during a shoot-out with officers of the Massachusetts State Police Special Tactical Operations Team (STOP). A second officer was wounded in that exchange of fire before, the suspect, Jorge Zambrano was shot by police officers. Zambrano, who was known to law enforcement, had multiple priors, including previous prison time. The gun recovered in the second shooting was being examined as part of the investigation. Police reports stated that Officer Tarentino was believed to have been fired upon 5 times, with the fatal bullet hitting him in the back.
The purpose of the meeting in the nation’s capitol was to bring state and local officials together with senior Administration officials to exchange information about addressing gun violence within their communities.Community leaders from each of the 50 states attended the symposium, including New England neighbor, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, who sat on a panel with Walsh. Malloy introduced Vice President Joe Biden, who closed out the meeting.
“Under the leadership of Mayor Walsh and Commissioner Evans, Boston leads the charge in taking a regional approach to addressing gun violence. Last year, the City of Boston commissioned a study and analysis, tracing data from crime guns recovered by the Boston Police over a period of six years. The results reinforced the need to have collective, regional efforts to reduce the number of firearms accessible to those who wish to use them for criminal purposes,” Walsh’s office said in a release in advance of the trip. “Since then, Mayor Walsh has convened four New England gun summits with municipal officials and law enforcement leaders from nearly 80 cities and towns across the New England region to share strategies to reduce gun violence and reduce trafficking of illegal firearms.”
Walsh commended President Obama for his Executive Action on Gun Control and spoke of the need for a coordinated effort inclusive of state and municipal governments in combatting gun violence across the country. He also stressed the importance of reaching out to stakeholders – community residents and responsible gun owners. Boston implemented an outreach initiative with positive results, finding that community members wanted to be included in the solution.
“We need a coordinated approach, across all levels,” Walsh said. “For instance, in Boston, we know gun violence isn’t just a Boston problem-it’s a New England problem. Seventy percent of Boston’s crime guns come from other states-states with weaker gun laws.”
Massachusetts gun laws are among the strictest in the country. Ranked an “A-” with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the Commonwealth joins East Coast neighbors, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Maryland a the top of the chart. California rounds out the top spots for the West Coast.
“We’re taking many more steps on a local level: We’re analyzing traced guns for research purposes. We have a successful gun buyback program,” Walsh said. “We also instituted a citywide ban on replica handguns: a move that will save many children’s lives. We’re educating women about the danger of holding guns for their partners.”
Massachusetts State Attorney General Maura Healey also spoke. “In December, our office sent a letter to every gun dealer in the state. We told them what our laws require and made very clear that we’d be watching,” Healey said. “We’ve followed up with investigations. We’re making sure dealers are conducting thorough background checks, doing the right recordkeeping, providing warnings and safety information, properly storing firearms, and not selling certain guns – like assault weapons and Glocks.”
Putting his prepared remarks aside and speaking off the cuff, Vice President Joe Biden closed out the meeting, choosing a more simplistic approach to the problem. “Gun violence is ravaging our communities,” the Vice President said. “Of all the civilized countries in the world, this is an exception. It doesn’t have to be this way. There is no reason for it to be this way.”
This post originally appeared on Examiner.com on May 25, 2016.