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National gun safety advocate Fred Guttenberg at a New Jersey event organized by Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo: Office of the Governor).

Guttenberg on gun safety: ‘Sweeney has been an obstacle’

By Joey Fox, December 17 2021 1:13 pm

Fred Guttenberg, a prominent national advocate for gun safety since his daughter’s death in the 2018 Parkland shooting and an ally of Gov. Phil Murphy, today criticized Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford)’s reticence to support gun control legislation in recent years.

“I know over the past couple of years, every time the governor has wanted to do something on this, Sweeney has been an obstacle,” Guttenberg said. “I can tell you, I am not from New Jersey … but for the benefit of my friends and family there, I am thrilled that Sweeney will no longer be serving for the next term.”

Sweeney’s skepticism of Murphy’s many gun control pushes continued yesterday, when he said that he’s worried some of the bills in a recently introduced gun control package are legislation for legislation’s sake. Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-South Amboy), by contrast, has been supportive of the package, and it has moved rapidly through Assembly committees so far.

“We’ve got the second-most stringent gun laws in the country. That’s a good thing,” Sweeney said yesterday. “But continuing just to pass more bills because you’re trying to find something else to pass to say you did it, I don’t agree with.”

Sweeney shockingly lost re-election last month, meaning that he won’t be a sitting member of the legislature next year, but he’s promised to remain a political player and has told allies he’ll run for governor in 2025. In response to Sweeney’s apparent gubernatorial run, Guttenberg said that gun safety will be a major issue in the 2025 campaign, and one that Sweeney may not find himself on the right side of.

“If Sweeney wants to run for governor and have this statewide conversation, I say bring it,” Guttenberg said. “But the issue isn’t going away. The reality of gun violence exists, and you’re either going to be making the arguments on how to save lives, or not.”

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