Families of the victims of the Newtown, Conn. school shooting have been leading the fight for tougher gun control measures and many gathered in Trenton today to share their views with lawmakers. Two of those parents, Jackie and Mark Barden, spoke to NJ Today Senior Correspondent Desirée Taylor about their fight for change and the memory of their son Daniel who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December.
Mark Barden said he hopes New Jersey lawmakers implement some of the legislation that’s been approved in neighboring states like New York and Connecticut. “We’d like to see a whole little East Coast enclave that could lead the nation in safer gun laws,” he said.
A key component to change, according to the Bardens, is limiting the magazine capacity. “That’s the number of bullets that can be fired out of a firearm,” explained Mark Barden. “And right now — and I think for the last 20 years — New Jersey has had a limit of 15. We think 10 would be better when you consider the simple math of the pause saves lives. When a gunman has to stop to reload, people escape.”
Jackie Barden said she acknowledges that a lot of good work is being done, but she and her husband believe the magazine capacity limit is essential.
“We know in our personal experience in Sandy Hook, 11 children escaped one of the classrooms when the gunman stopped to reload,” Mark Barden said. “One consistent feature of these mass shootings is the gunman prefers to use a high capacity magazine. The gunman in Sandy Hook chose to leave the smaller capacity magazines at home and brought the 30-round magazines with him.”
While Jackie Barden said she’s not sure if a smaller size magazine would have saved her son Daniel, she believes the smaller size could have saved others. “Even if it’s one life, isn’t it worth it?” she asked.
Mark Barden said a tragedy like he has experienced could happen anywhere. “Tomorrow there could be a mom and dad in our position anywhere,” he said. “And if the gunman has to reload 10 times instead of three times, then more people will survive.”
The couple believes New Jersey lawmakers are listening to their argument and considering it. “I think they see the facts on the table and we’re hoping they’re going to move forward with this,” Mark Barden said.
The Bardens said they will continue to work for change state by state and at the federal level. “We feel we don’t have a choice. We feel we really don’t want to see this happen to another family,” Jackie Barden said. “Our Daniel doesn’t have a voice and we really just feel strongly that this can be prevented if measures are taken.”
The couple doesn’t believe a change in law reducing magazine capacity limits would infringe on Second Amendment rights. Jackie Barden said hunters don’t even use 15 round magazines as far as she is aware. The goal is to reduce gun violence, she said.
“Mark and I have no political background and a lot of these issues are new and we have really tried to learn as much as we can and before making decisions as to what is appropriate or what we would think would help reduce gun violence,” Jackie Barden said. “Basically that’s why we’re here. There are many ways to help reduce gun violence and lowering the magazine is one way.”
The Bardens are looking to honor their son and save lives in the future.
“Our little Daniel was a helper. He was extremely compassionate. He was always looking beyond himself and how to comfort other people. And this is not just about Daniel. This is not just about the lives lost in Sandy Hook,” Mark Barden said. “We believe that these measures can save lives in the future, all across the country, and yet preserve all of the rights that our constitution provides for everyone.”