By Rich Petkevis, Director of Media Relations, New Jersey Second Amendment Society
I am writing on behalf of the New Jersey Second Amendment Society in response to Assemblyman Louis Greenwald’s Opinion piece, “Sensible ways to curb gun violence” , published on February 20, 2013.
Not one of the “sensible measures” proposed in the package of twenty plus bills does anything to prevent gun violence perpetrated by criminals and the insane. Instead, they create more restriction on the law abiding citizens.
A good example of how NJ’s strict legislation does not work is when ASM Greenwald chose to point out how NJ gun deaths were up 9 percent in 2011. New Jersey already has one of the strongest gun control legislation packages in the US, including background checks, wait times, reduced magazine capacities, an “assault weapons ban”, and does not issue concealed carry permits to ordinary citizens unless they demonstrate “justifiable need” which is determined by the NJ court system. A permit to carry a hand gun is virtually unreachable in NJ. With all of this strict legislation, specifically NJ’s hand gun restrictions, how can it be we have a rising rate of gun deaths? According to the 2011 NJ State Police Crime Data Report hand guns were responsible for 264 of the 270 gun related murders in NJ (5 deaths were by shotgun, one death by rifle). Perhaps instead of putting further restrictions on legally owned firearms that are not the problem, the NJ Assembly should be looking at what can be done to get the illegal firearms off the streets and out of the hands of criminals.
If criminals and the mentally ill have no regard for laws, why do our legislators push firearms restrictions onto those who follow the law? Reducing magazine capacity to 10 rounds for law abiding individuals won’t stop a criminal from committing a crime with a larger capacity magazine. Is a law abiding citizen’s life only worth 10 rounds of ammunition when a criminal may attack them carrying a 30 round capacity firearm?
Renewing your firearms ID card every 5 years will not prevent crime, but rather create a further back log with the NJ State Police for background checks, not to mention the financial burden placed onto municipalities who’s police department process firearms ID cards. Requiring all ammunition sales be conducted face to face with records kept and maintained by the state will not deter criminals. What it does is increase our state’s financial burden by adding to the work load of the NJSP and create a monopoly among NJ ammunition dealers. Weather or not an individual buys their ammunition face to face or over the internet is not the problem. The amount of ammunition one possess is not the problem.
The problem is the state’s inability to distinguish between law abiding citizens and the criminal. Why not increase the penalties for individuals who actually commit these crimes instead of hampering honest gun owners? All of these restrictions create instant criminals once enacted when the estimated one million NJ gun owners are in violation by simply possessing items they have owned for years.
Here’s an idea, why not take all of the money and time you have spent and plan on spending to implement these new measures and reinvest them into the NJSP so they can expand efforts to curb gang violence and trace firearms that are reported stolen? Why not trust the citizens of NJ and advanced one of the bills sitting in committee that would allow concealed carry? If the state charged $100 per permit yearly as the bill S104 states, and you had at least 250,000 out of 8 million residents apply, that would be $25 million dollars a year in revenue. Is that enough to help expand mental health services?
When mentioning the Heller case, I would like to point out that Mr. Greenwald has failed to mention that the decision leaves many debatable items. Much like NJ’s gun laws, vague wording of the decision leaves room for debate as to what “reasonable restrictions” are. It should also be noted the decision also stated that “firearms in common use” cannot be banned.
In closing, I would like to remind all of NJ’s legislators that we voting people of NJ are taking notes. Your attacks on our rights will be remembered when your seats come up for re-elecection in November.