NJ Lawmakers To Debate Two Dozen Gun Control Bills Today [AUDIO]
Today in Trenton, the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee will meet to consider 24 bills aimed at reforming weapons and ammunition sales, improving mental health services, enhancing gun safety, combating illegal gun trafficking and finding ways to boost school security. Panel members are expecting a very long day.
Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver says, "I believe that the level of gun violence has gotten out of control in our state; it affects every community. While people understand and embrace the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms, I think we have gotten to a place in society where we have to examine the safety of everyone else. So, for that reason, we must legislatively reexamine where we are in New Jersey."
Democratic Assembly members say the call to action comes after a rash of devastating shootings across the country including one this morning at the New Castle County, Delaware courthouse that left two people plus the gunman dead and two others wounded. They say recent tragedies have placed the discussion of gun violence prevention front and center on the national stage and spurred Assembly action today.
Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman says, "Mental health is a really, really, really important issue here because, in some respects, we might have been able to prevent incidences, had we known that those particular types of individuals had access to guns."
"Legislation that I have put in requires if you purchase a firearm, it requires that you are trained in firearms," explains Assembly Democratic Conference Leader Gordon Johnson. "It comes from my police training, my police days, where we put a police officer in the street, he or she has two or three weeks of firearms training. So, why can't we direct, through a certification process, so we all know this individual has had proper training in the firearms that they have."
Gun rights advocate believe that plowing through dozen bills in one day makes it impossible to give the public a fair hearing.
"We're not looking to punish or penalize responsible gun ownership in this state, or sportsmen. That is not the Legislature's intent," insists Oliver. "The Legislature's intent is to do common sense kinds of interventions. We are not looking to strip people of their rights. We are looking to ensure the safety of all communities."