Government

Activist Organization to Rally for ‘Gun Safety Vaults’ Ordinance at City Hall

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National United Youth Council Director Salaam Ismial plans to hold a rally at 5 p.m. on Wednesday calling for the city to pass a "gun safety vault" ordinance. Credits: Rebecca Panico
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ELIZABETH, NJ - A local activist organization is planning a rally calling for the city to pass an ordinance that would require guns to be stored in safety vaults, citing the recent shooting death of a teenager.

National United Youth Council Director Salaam Ismial said the organization plans to rally on Wednesday at 5 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza across from City Hall. The rally will raise gun safety awareness and call for a city ordinance that would mandate gun owners to register and own "gun safety vaults."

“There are requirements of registering guns, but there’s no requirement on the safety of the guns,” Ismial said in a phone interview. Ismial said his proposal to the city “doesn’t infringe on the Second Amendment” since he’s only calling for safety vaults.

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Jose Oliver Torres Tineo, 16, was shot on July 4 by the son of Elizabeth Police Department Officer Kevin Kelly, sources confirmed with TAP. Other reports, citing anonymous sources, stated the shooting occurred in Kelly’s home and was apparently an accident.

Authorities said the teen was shot in the head and found in the basement on the 800 block of Monroe Avenue around 9:45 p.m. He was taken to University Hospital in Newark in critical condition.

Tineo died at 5 p.m. on July 5, University Hospital spokesman Rick Remington said. Over 100 people attended a vigil at Coakley Park Friday night to remember the teen, and a funeral service was set for 4 p.m. today.

Friends started a GoFundme campaign to help Tineo's family pay for the funeral. 

The incident is still under investigation and today the Union County Prosecutor's Office did not confirm if any arrests have been made.

Ismial, whose organization is based out of Elizabeth and has been active since the 80s, sent a letter to Mayor Christian Bollwage and City Council yesterday urging the city to take up his proposed ordinance.

“We can't prevent every gun incident that may involve Homicide, Suicide, or Accidents but more efforts to help to make us safe is worthy,” Ismial’s letter to City Hall read.

A voicemail and email sent to city spokeswoman Kelly Martins were not returned today. City Council President Carlos Torres did not immediately respond to a voicemail seeking comment.

State law (statute 2C :58-15) has penalties for those who don't store a firearm securely around a minor under the age of 16, however, there are exemptions for when a minor obtains a firearm by "unlawful entry."

Despite the penalties, there is no state law that requires firearm owners to lock their weapons, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence's website. Discounts are also offered to those who purchase trigger locking devices along with a firearm.

Municipal authority is hazy when it involves state law. An appeals court invalidated a Jersey City ordinance in 2014 involving handgun sales on the grounds that state law preempted the local law. 

An email sent to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence seeking comment on the validity of Ismial’s demand for a city ordinance was not immediately returned today. However, “the validity of such ordinances [involving guns] likely will be determined on a case-by-case basis,” the organization said on its website.

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for July 25 at 7:30 p.m. 

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