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Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Murphy hopes voters animated over gun issues

By Nikita Biryukov, October 29 2018 7:37 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy said he hopes gun issues and a recent mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that left 11 dead and others injured would animate voters ahead of the year’s midterms.

“I hope a big effect in the right direction. I was just back and forth, I mentioned Frank Guttenberg, I was back and forth with Mark Kelly a short while ago. I know he’s out there tirelessly working,” Murphy said. “And Kevin Quinn who chairs the brady campaign, and I were back and forth. I hope it has a big impact. This awfulness, I hope, has a silver lining to it.”

Murphy’s administration announced another wave of gun control legislation at a press conference on Monday, including, among others, provisions to impede gun trafficking and impose new regulations on the sale of ammunition.

New Jerseyans overwhelmingly support more stringent gun laws. A Stockton University poll in April found 75% of New Jersey residents supported stricter regulations, while 19% said they wanted no change and 5% wanted laws loosened.

Still, guns might not be a knockout for Democrats.

While the issue is typically hyper-partisan on a national level, New Jersey Republicans tend to resemble their Democratic counterparts on guns more than they do Republican cohorts from states like Alabama, and some of the groups Murphy’s working with on gun laws have backed Republican House candidates.

Giffords, the gun-control group founded by former Rep. Gabby Giffords and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, endorsed Reps. Leonard Lance and Chris Smith over their Democratic challengers this cycle – a point Lance made abundantly clear during a debate with Democrat Tom Malinowski earlier this month.

Murphy backs Malinowski in that race and spoke fondly of the former assistant secretary of state at a breakfast with Union County Democrats on Sunday.

“We’re going to do everything, literally, within our power, including keeping the pressure on in Congress,” Murphy said at Monday’s press conference. “I don’t want to get political, but there are elections in eight days, and I want to be backing the folks who are prepared to change the reality in Washington.”

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