NJ Gun-Free School Zone Bill Meets With Opposition [POLL/AUDIO]
Today marks the two-month anniversary of the horrific Newtown, Connecticut school massacre. That tragic fact did not stop several gun rights activists from voicing their staunch opposition yesterday to a bill that would allow towns to create gun-free school zones.
The measure was one of 20 pieces of legislation advanced by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.
John Tomicki executive director of the League of American Families says, "No one would like to see anyone harmed by an act of violence by any weapon……Most of these instances, if you let the perpetrator know it's a gun-free zone they feel very free to act. As a matter of fact, if you made Trenton a gun-free zone would it be safer from the Bloods and the Crips?"
"I absolutely believe in common-sense gun laws," says Craig Dear with the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs. "Every time we kill someone we kill them in a gun-free zone…..If we look at all of these killings they've all been in gun-free zones."
"This legislation would help create a community safe haven around schools, day cares, in parks and libraries," says Assemblyman Whip Wilson, one of the bill's sponsors. "A weapons free school zone would support this idea. Municipalities, with higher fines and stronger punishments, would be better able to ensure protection of our children and the surrounding communities."
Under the bill's provisions, the governing body of any municipality is permitted to adopt an ordinance establishing weapons free school zones. The zones would encompass the areas within 1000 feet of a school, college or university building or facility; and 500 feet of a day care, public housing facility or public building. The zones would include school buses. The bill would direct that anyone who unlawfully possesses a firearm within one of these zones is subject to a fine of up to $1000, 90 days of imprisonment, or both.
Bill co-sponsor, Assemblyman Gordon John says, "As with drugs, illegal weapons have no place in the proximity of children. A weapons free school zone will designate these areas as safe spaces and allow us to more effectively hold defendants accountable and potentially serve as a deterrent for those engaged trafficking of illegal weapons."
The Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee released legislation yesterday. The approved measure will now go to the Assembly Speaker to be considered for a floor vote.
Another school related bill approved yesterday would create a task force charged with making recommendations to improve security and make schools safer.