Should NJ teachers be allowed to carry guns in schools?
TRENTON — Gun advocates in New Jersey are pushing back against calls for more gun control in the wake of this week's school shooting in Florida.
Their proposed solution for reducing school massacres? More guns — in the hands of the right people, that is.
Alexander P. Roubian, president of the New Jersey Second Amendment Society, pointed out Saturday that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions admitted the FBI overlooked warning signs and a confidential tip about the Stoneman Douglas High School gunman, who killed 14 students and three adults Wednesday.
"That's why it's important that schools and individuals take shooting classes to learn how to be proficient with a firearm and to be able to protect themselves," he said. "Unfortunately, New Jersey makes that as difficult as possible."
Gov. Phil Murphy, in ordering flags to fly at half staff Tuesday, called for stricter gun restrictions, including a reduction in the maximum capacity of ammunition magazines to 10 rounds, prohibiting ammunition capable of penetrating body armor, and revising the definition of a destructive device to include certain weapons of 50 caliber or greater.
His administration is also rolling back Christie-administration rules that tried to make it easier for residents to obtain gun-carry permits.
Murphy's statements on guns was shared by other Democratic officials in the state.
"Let’s not pretend like we don’t know solutions to gun violence," U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said on Twitter this week. "The N.R.A. Can Be Beat, but the Republicans have made an active choice to do absolutely nothing to keep our children safe."
"Apparently when you fight for common sense solutions to reduce gun violence & refuse to be bought the #NRA gives you an F…Happy to say I earned it," U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J. 6th District, said on Twitter.
A Republican congressman also is bucking the gun lobby by calling for the federal government to lift the prohibition on gun violence research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“By removing restrictions that prevent the federal government from studying mental health issues that lead to gun violence, Congress could have a clearer picture of what effective policies and solutions might be taken to stem the tide of violence,” U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance, R-N.J. 7th District, said Friday.
Roubian responded Saturday by calling on lawmakers to "disarm" the capitols.
"Be exposed to danger as the children are and everyday citizens are," he said. "Otherwise they're just elitist hypocrites who think their lives are more worthy for protection than children's are."
He said he knows teachers in other states who have been trained to carry firearms during the school day.
One of the members of his organization is an elementary school math teacher in New Jersey and a competitive shooter who told Roubian that his principal wishes teachers could be armed.
"But New Jersey bans that from happening," Roubian said.
School districts, however, are considering allowing guns into schools in the hands of police officers. East Brunswick Board of Education this week voted to allow cops who patrol the schools during the day to carry their service weapons.
While the national gun debate has turned its attention to mental health and the ability of people with mental disability to purchase firearms, Roubian cautioned against overreaching regulations that could unfairly deny people their Second Amendment right.
"We certainly are open to addressing mental illness. However, in New Jersey we've had women being denied a purchase permit to buy a gun because they suffered from post partem depression 20 or 30 or 40 years ago," he said. "New Jersey pushes it too far and looks for any reason to even bar someone from purchasing a gun to keep in their home."