NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Democratic New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono have teamed up to urge state lawmakers to pass gun control legislation.
Booker and state Sen. Buono announced the effort at a Baptist church in Newark Monday, calling for legislation to limit access to illegal guns and high-capacity magazines. The move came as votes on key bills in a Senate gun-control package stalled.
Supporters included Seton Hall University student Nakeisha Vanterpool, who cried as she recounted how she and her roommate were shot two years ago after a fight broke out at a party. Vanterpool recovered after being hit in the jaw but her roommate died after being shot in the head.
Booker said New Jersey must do more to stem the flow of illegal guns — a problem that can be addressed with stronger background checks. Of the “thousands” of shootings that have taken place in recent years in Newark, only one was committed with a gun obtained legally, he said.
Though Booker did not mention Gov. Chris Christie or Senate President Stephen Sweeney by name, he said there’s been a lack of leadership on gun violence in the state. Both Christie and Sweeney are resisting a new limit on high-capacity magazines, which gun-control advocates strongly support. The state Assembly has already passed a bill capping the number of bullets in a magazine at 10.
Buono also supports reducing the magazine size to 10 from the current 15. Her gun proposals also include eliminating loopholes in background checks for firearms purchases and requiring in-person ammunition sales.
Several of Sweeney’s bills advanced to the Senate floor Monday but were delayed by technicalities. They had to be tweaked to get through committee last week as gun-control advocates complained that the original bills actually weakened the state’s already stringent gun laws, and threatened to withhold support.
One bill would require universal background checks. Another would ban people on the terrorism watch list from obtaining a permit to buy a firearm. A third would ban the sale of .50-caliber weapons. Additional votes are planned for May 30.
The state Senate passed three gun bills that the Assembly had approved previously, so they will head to Christie’s desk. They include requiring records on mental health commitments to be accessible for instant background checks required for gun purchases, which Christie has said he supports.
Those bills were among 22 measures passed by the state Assembly in the aftermath of the killing of 20 children and six adults in a Newtown, Conn., school last year.
Sweeney said he would not move on the proposed magazine limit, and leaders in the Assembly have said they wouldn’t advance the Senate president’s bills unless a magazine limit was included.
The stalemate likely means that Christie won’t be forced to take a position on further gun controls. Having to take such a position could be difficult for a governor who is running for re-election in a Democratic-leaning state while having to appeal to conservative Republican primary voters if he plans to run for president in 2016.
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