Morris County Republicans are doubling down on making the 2018 election a referendum on guns.
Scott Bach, the executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs and the only National Rifle Association (NRA) board member from New Jersey, will be the keynote speaker at the Morris County Women’s Republican Club (MCWRC) brunch in April.
“At a time in our country when our Second Amendment rights are being threatened and the political climate is more polarizing than ever, Morris County is leading the way with civil discourse on this incredibly important topic,” said Angelique Scholl, the MCWRC president. “Our elected leaders, volunteers, and members are as enthused as ever to protect our freedoms and revitalize the Republican Party in New Jersey.”
Guns are expected to be an issue in the high profile 11th district congressional race, where Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen is retiring after twelve terms.
Bach, a Morris County resident, is described by the MCWRC as “a gun rights leader in the most hostile territory imaginable for nearly two decades.”
“Scott has redefined the meaning of ‘relentless’ as he has repeatedly beaten the odds, often leaving New Jersey gun-ban politicians stunned, embarrassed, and defeated,” a MCWRC press release said. “Often demonized in the liberal media, and sometimes the target of death threats from those who preach ‘tolerance,’ Scott leads one million gun owners, hunters, sportsmen, and sportswomen in the Garden State.”
The Morris County Democratic Women’s Caucus supports comprehensive gun laws, says president Meghan Lynch.
“New Jersey is a leader in common sense gun regulation, but more can and must be done to protect our citizens,” Lynch said. “Those who oppose such progress are grossly out of touch.”
At least one prominent Morris County Republican thinks inviting Bach to speak is a bad idea.
Former Harding Mayor Nicolas Platt, who is considering a bid for Frelinghuysen’s seat, says he sat down with Bach last year to discuss his position on guns as a candidate for freeholder.
“I caution any one of us who seeks this particular seat to understand the consequences in getting an NRA endorsement,” said Platt. “There is no question in my mind that a conservative cannot win in November because the most of what the conservative hard-right is saying is ideological nonsense and people know it. That is especially true when it comes to their interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. They seem unfazed when anyone points out that even Associate Justice Antonin Scalia and Ronald Reagan concluded that a citizen’s right to bear arms did not include the ownership of an assault rifle.”
Platt’s family owned and ran the Remington Arms Company, he largest gun and munitions factory in the world for over 70 years.
“Semi-automatic weapons have no place in civilian hands. Period. And any candidate who does not support a restriction on certain type of gun ownership in the 11th district race will lose,” Platt said. “Do you really want to debate this point with a former Navy helicopter pilot (Mikie Sherrill) who actually fired an automatic weapon? That is why asking for Mr. Bach’s support and getting an NRA endorsement is probably not a good idea.”
The MCWRC announcement comes days before students and their families will participate in a March for Our Lives demonstration in Morristown on Saturday.
“It saddens me to hear that a leader in the NRA is coming to speak at the Morris County Republican Women’s Breakfast when I hear him say that Second Amendment rights are under fire,” said Lisa Bhimani, a former state senate candidate who is working with her daughter as the lead organizers of the Morristown March. “We are currently witnessing an unprecedented movement of students asking that their schools be made safe. None have said that that want guns taken away. All have said that some limitations—age of purchase, type of weapon, background of individual need to be considered. More than 80% of gun owners support common sense gun regulations. That is all these kids are asking for.”
The brunch will follow a campaign school sponsored by the New Jersey Republican State Committee to help women candidates running in 2018.