Two NJ congressmen break with Republican party on gun policy

Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden proudly showed off the county’s newly award-winning 911 call center to Rep. Chris Smith.

“People are better served, more likely to have, whether it be a gun situation or any kind of emergency management situation, sickness, accidents, whatever it might be, the ability to respond and respond effectively has been significantly enhanced because of this center,” said Smith.

Last week, on the same day as the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, the private nonprofit group Next Generation 911 honored Monmouth County. The call center features GPS tracking, high-tech mobile response trucks, and the ability to send and receive text messages. But the talk still turned to the tragedy in Florida.

Golden says this is a nationwide challenge.

“New Jersey has a lot of different law enforcement agencies that all have to come together and work together in response to some type of active shooter incident. And then there’s the preparation for it. You see the equipment that we have,” he said.

Smith, a Republican, goes against most of his party by supporting tougher background checks to include private sales at gun shows.

“I also voted in 1994 for the ban on assault weapons. I believe that there’s gaps there. It expired in 2004, and frankly there’s blame to go around and people are looking to do the blame game, and I think we ought to look to just fix it,” said Smith.

He also responded to President Trump’s call to arm teachers as a way to deal with school shootings.

“There would be teachers and coaches. If the coach had a firearm in his locker when he ran at this guy, that coach was very brave, saved a lot of lives I suspect. But if he had a firearm he wouldn’t have had to run. He would have shot and that would have been the end of it,” Trump said.

“I think that needs to be looked at very carefully. Of course, if they’ve got the training, especially if they’re former military, they have to have state-of-the-art capabilities because you don’t want mishaps happening,” said Smith.

Wednesday, another New Jersey Republican and strong NRA supporter, Rep. Tom MacArthur, reversed course on strengthening background checks.

MacArthur said in a statement that he is “calling on Attorney General Sessions to issue guidance to states … on ways to bolster their efforts and make them more universal across the board. … background checks are useless unless they cover all guns.”

As for the 911 center, the next advancement coming is live cellphone video taken by people who call 911, which would help determine what type of aid is needed.

The 911 system is partially funded by a 90-cent per phone, per month tax. But, the sheriff says only 11 percent of the $126 million a year raised actually goes to 911. He says it’s time that the governor and Legislature restore 100 percent of the money.