Assembly Panel Advances Gun Control Bills

By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
Trenton. February 13, 2013

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Supporters and opponents of gun control bills pack Assembly Public Safety Committee hearing (photo by Phil Gregory)

New Jersey lawmakers are considering a variety of measures aimed at reducing gun violence.

More than 20 bills being advanced by an Assembly committee would impose new restrictions including limitations on the capacity of ammunition magazines and expanding New Jersey's existing ban on military style weapons.

Assembly Public Safety Committee chairman Charles Mainor says the time to get serious about protecting communities from gun violence is long overdue.

“We recognize that we can not put an end to each and every gun crime, but we can responsibly close the gaps and make our laws stronger for the benefit of everyone. With this effort good common sense will prevail.”

Lori Caratzola with the New Jersey Second Amendment Society says the legislation is not the answer.

“We’re not dealing with the real problem by making more laws. We have a lot of gun laws in New Jersey. They’re not working. Why? Because criminals don’t follow the laws by very definition of being a criminal.”

Even a bill to disqualify someone on the federal Terrorist Watchlist from purchasing firearms was controversial.

Concerns about the possibility of someone wrongly being on the watchlist prompted one member of the Public Safety Committee to vote against the bill and Assemblyman Erik Peterson abstained.

 “The problem is that if your name comes back on it nobody knows how you get to prove that that person who is a terrorist is not you.”

The sponsor of the measure, Assemblyman Joe Cryan, was amazed that there was opposition.

“I’m just flabbergasted that people can vote no or abstain on a bill that prevents folks from being on a terrorist watchlist the ability to buy firearms. That’s beyond mind boggling.”

Supporters of the bill say there are procedures to clear the name of anyone erroneously on the terrorist watchlist.

The Senate also plans to act on gun control measures. There’s no indication whether Governor Christie would sign any of the bills into law.



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