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NJ Assembly Judiciary Committee Advances Gun Bills

Opponents and supporters of the bills testify at Assembly Judiciary Committee hearing.

A package of bills advancing in the New Jersey legislature would make the state’s tough gun laws even tougher.

The measures include background checks for private gun sales, a 10-round limit on the capacity of ammunition magazines, and a mandate for law enforcement to seize a person’s guns if a mental health professional determines they’re a threat to themselves or others.

Assembly Judiciary Committee chairwoman Annette Quijano says the deadly school shooting in Florida was the latest unfortunate result of a failed national gun and mental health policy.

“We need to listen to individuals when they talk to us.  And how many times are we going to miss the telltale signs that someone is going to commit violent acts with firearms? I know this is no easy task, and that we have a duty to respect the second amendment to the constitution. But we also have a duty to protect our residents’ rights to life and liberty.”

Summit resident Tracy Keegan walked away unharmed when she was confronted by a gunman in Hoboken 20 years ago. She believes a background check including mental health information could have prevented that crime from happening.

“The right to own a gun should not trump the right to live. Enacting common sense gun legislation isn’t going to ruin anyone’s life or kill anyone, but not enacting it might. “   

Cinnaminson resident Melissa Deeney is a firearms instructor. She opposes the legislation.

“The gun is not to blame. The human is the weapon. And it’s important that we remember as we restrict the rights of people to protect themselves we actually enable the criminals to come after us and do more harm.”

Hackensack resident Ismael Abbasi questions whether the bills would prevent school shootings like the one in Florida from happening again.

“How are you guys going to criminalize law-abiding citizens that had nothing to do with what happened at that school?  It was a failure of government at every single level.”

Assemblyman Lou Greenwald says gun violence is an epidemic and he hopes there’s bipartisan support to get the bills enacted.

“This is not about taking guns away from the responsible gun owner, some of whom are my family members, but rather creating a framework around the second amendment. Reasonable restrictions on this right that works for New Jersey and keeps our society safe.”