‘Throw stuffed animals at the gunman?’ — Gun owners demand rights
TRENTON — As the legislature considers six of what Gov. Phil Murphy has called "common sense" gun safety proposals, several hundred gun owners and supporters rallied at the Statehouse on Monday.
The rally comes two days after thousands of teens marched across New Jersey as part of the March For Our Lives events against gun violence, asking Congress to strengthen the country's gun laws following the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
State Police estimated the crowd at 2,000 for the rally.
"Isn't it ironic that we're standing here in Trenton on a sunny day because beneath the surface is a perfect anti-gun storm," Scott Bach, executive director the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, told the crowd Monday. The ANCRPC organized the rally. "Liberal lawmakers are in a feeding frenzy falling all over themselves to move the most extreme over the top legislation this state has ever seen."
"Hardware bans, self-defense bans, property forfeiture, suspension of rights, turning a million people into criminals with the stroke of a pen," Bach told the crowds to a chorus of boos. "Or as I like to call it, buy it yesterday, ban it today, go to jail tomorrow."
"No!" responded the crowd when Bach asked if new laws would stop the next tragedy or make anyone safer. Bach said gun control proponents' real goal is to eliminate the Second Amendment and gun ownership by private citizens.
"Right now they're exploiting tragedy to advance an agenda — an agenda they never speak of publicly except when they're caught on Statehouse microphones when they think they're turned off saying 'confiscate, confiscate, confiscate,' yet they sit in their Statehouse surrounded by armed security" Bach said.
In 2013, a hot-mike recording that appeared to include Democrats Loretta Weinberg, Sandra Cunningham and Linda Greenstein caught someone saying "We needed a bill that was going to confiscate, confiscate, confiscate." The recording was published to YouTube.
Former gubernatorial candidate Steve Lonegan, currently running for the Fifth Congressional District seat held by Democrat Josh Gottheimer, spoke in favor of arming teachers in the classroom.
He said his wife's nursery school class does "lockdown drills" in which he said teachers are told to put themselves between a potential gunman and her students.
"Some schools are teaching teachers and kids to throw stuff at the assailant. ... What are they going to do? Throw stuffed animals at the gunman? There's nowhere in our society do we teach our citizens to be ready to die. We don't send fireman into a building without the right equipment. How dare we expect teachers across this country to be ready to be killed? That is a disgrace," Lonegan said.
He expressed support for a bill that would require doors that fortified with bulletproof locks and concrete doors.
"That is a real answer to the violence," Lonegan said.
Following Saturday's Newark March for Our Lives event, Gov. Phil Murphy announced in a statement the legislature on Monday would vote on bills to expand background checks, lower magazine capacity, ban armor-piercing bullets, and ensure individuals deemed by a healthcare professional as a threat to themselves or others don’t have access to a gun.
If they are passed Murphy said he will sign the bills into law.
Michael Symons contributed to this report.