Assembly passes bills to strengthen state’s gun laws

Second Amendment advocates rallied at Trenton’s War Memorial Monday as a counterpoint to Saturday’s March for Our Lives and to protest a package of six gun control bills up for votes in the Assembly.

“We are not the problem, we are law-abiding citizens. We want our children and our grandchildren to be safe,” said Sen. Steven Oroho.

Sponsored by the NRA and New Jersey’s Rifle and Pistol Association, rally speakers targeted bills that would ban armor-piercing bullets and magazines over ten rounds; require background checks for all private gun sales and tighten rules for concealed carry handgun permits; also, one that would let family members ask a judge to seize someone’s guns for up to a year if they’re a threat to themselves or others, or if there’s a restraining order against them. And finally, a bill to require law enforcement to seize a person’s guns if a mental health professional determines they’re a threat.

“I have a right to defend myself, and no one has the right to tell me what firearm to have, or to violate my Second Amendment right, or to change the capacity of my magazine,” said former Republican Assemblywoman Donna Simon.

“I’m tired of seeing our rights just slowly chipped away at. I think a lot of people here are as well,” said James Smythe, a protestor from Branchburg. “We have this moniker of being paranoid people that think that our rights are just going to be taken away and people are going to kick in our door and take our guns. That’s not it. It’s just being marginalized and criminalized slowly by these laws.”

“The laws in the books have done nothing in crime-ridden cities like Camden, Newark and Trenton. Enough is enough and we at New Jersey Second Amendment Society vow to fight every insane proposal in Trenton today,” said New Jersey Second Amendment Society President Alexander Roubian.

“These are bills that have been worked on and amended and made sure everything in these bills were done properly for a long period of time,” said Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker.

Years, in fact. Most of the bills have been blocked before by Gov. Chris Christie. The Assembly convened Monday afternoon before a packed gallery. Both sides were there to witness the votes. It got emotional.

But one by one, all six bills passed, most of them in bipartisan votes.

“The bills will send a message around the rest of the country. It will give hope to the people who protested this weekend, it will give hope to the children of Parkland and the families of Sandy Hook. The reality is, it’ll send a message and you’ll see more and more states participate in this,” said Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald.

The bills now head to the Senate, where Senate President Steve Sweeney has said he will post them for a vote. Gov. Phil Murphy has said he will sign them.