Gov. Phil Murphy went to Westfield today to call on Senate President Steve Sweeney to pass a package of bills to strengthen New Jersey’s already tough gun control laws.
Last Thursday, Westfield police arrested a man outside an elementary school with a .45-caliber handgun loaded with hollow point bullets, two loaded magazines, and 130 rounds of ammunition in his car.
Murphy praised Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin for his willingness to post gun bills for a vote, but criticized Sweeney for not backing the entire package, including a proposal for ammunition regulation.
“A handgun without ammunition is a paperweight,” Murphy said.
Sweeney is moving forward with just eight of the thirteen gun safety bills.
“I urge the Senate President to advance the Legislature’s gun safety package in its entirety,” Murphy said. “The time for a bold and comprehensive strategy is now, and I urge our legislative leaders to work together to significantly reduce gun violence in our communities.”
While Murphy didn’t hesitate to bash Sweeney, he stopped short of mentioning Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, a Westfield resident with a 100% rating from the National Rifle Association in a tight race for re-election.
Bramnick’s Democratic opponent, Lisa Mandelblatt, said that the eight-term Republican should have attended Murphy’s press conference today considering the local incident last week.
“Everyday violence is a reality,” said Mandelblatt, who did attend today’s event. “It hit home. It happened in Westfield.”
Mandelblatt said it was unfortunate that it took a near-tragic situation to heighten awareness of the issue.
“We’re lucky to live in a state that has sensible gun violence prevention laws,” Mandelblatt said.
Along with Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Assembly Majority Louis Greenwald, Murphy announced a four-point plan last November to create major gun safety reforms.
Editor’s note: this story was updated at 2:44 PM to include comment from Mandelblatt.