TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Jersey lawmakers are considering a handful of measures to tighten the state’s already-strict gun laws.
The Assembly Judiciary Committee was debating the bills Wednesday before a large crowd that included several members of a national gun control group.
It’s New Jersey’s first legislative hearing on gun control since the fatal high school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy had already promised more “sensible” gun-control measures even before the shooting that killed 17 people.
The Assembly introduced a seven-bill gun safety package. The bills aim to encourage personalized handguns, keep guns away from those who pose threats, reduce ammunition magazine capacity, enhance background checks, ban armor-piercing ammunition and counter efforts to weaken gun safety regulations.
Rev. Rob Gregson held up a picture of his 12-year-old daughter holding a sign that says, “Don’t arm my teachers, ban military-style arms.”
“Keeping military-grade weapons and ammo available to all who want it with minimal checks and balances isn’t going to make my daughter safer during her Language Arts class,” he said.
Emotions were hot as the Assembly heard testimony from both sides of the gun safety debate. The room was a sea of red, with members of the group Moms Demand Action.
“According to the gun violence archive, there have been 345 mass shootings in America in 2017 alone. A mass shooting is considered a shooting where four or more are injured or killed,” said Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald.
Those opposed stated their case, saying criminals bent on doing evil will not be stopped by gun laws.
“I’m opposed to each and every one of these bills, because every one of them violates my rights under the Constitution of the United States, Article 2 Bill of Rights,” one man said.
Bill sponsor Assemblyman Louis Greenwald assured them otherwise.
“This is not about taking guns away from the responsible gun owner,” he said. “But rather creating a framework around the Second Amendment.”
If approved, the measures would go to the full Democrat-controlled Assembly for a vote.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)