Former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, a candidate for the Republican nomination for Congress in the 5th district, voiced strong opposition to a series bills aimed at tightening gun laws in testimony submitted to the Assembly Judiciary Committee today.
The proposals, which include a requirement to seize firearms when a mental health professional identifies a gun owner as a potential threat and background checks on private gun sales, come in the wake of seventeen deaths at a high school in Florida earlier this month.
Lonegan said that the bills represent a “dangerous overreach that threatens Constitutional liberties and the rights of law-abiding citizens.” His testimony addressed A-1217, which he says would violate New Jerseyans of due process.
In testimony provided to the committee, Lonegan took issue with A-1217, indicating the legislation would violate New Jersey citizen’s right to due process.
The full text of Lonegan’s testimony:
Testimony of Steve Lonegan on Assembly Bill 1217 Assembly Judiciary Committee February 28, 2018
In 1971, a group of possibly well-meaning but misguided politicians imposed the Civil Authorities Special Powers Act, which allowed government to take away peoples’ rights without charging them with a crime. It was meant to be a response to violence, but only made matters worse in Northern Ireland.
In considering Assembly Bill 1217, the New Jersey Legislature should recall the words of George Will, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author, who reminded us of the dangers of “overcriminalization.” After the death of Eric Garner, which was the result of the New York Legislature sending in the police to enforce a state tax on cigarettes, Will warned legislators that there are potentially grave consequences every time they make a new law and then send in men with guns to enforce it.
Will said: “Overcriminalization has become a national plague. And when more and more behaviors are criminalized, there are more and more occasions for police, who embody the state’s monopoly on legitimate violence, and who fully participate in humanity’s flaws, to make mistakes.”
Assembly Bill 1217 is open to abuse and has the potential to create many more situations with violent outcomes than those it seeks to prevent. And, as written, there is no recourse or penalty if the law and its potentially violent outcome were triggered by a simple misunderstanding or a false or malicious report.