NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Congressional representatives, local leaders and advocates gathered on the steps of New Brunswick City Hall on October 6 to make the case for more stringent, nationwide gun regulations in the midst of the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas.
Congress members Frank Pallone and Bonnie Watson Coleman demanded action, joined by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora and area mayors including East Brunswick Mayor Brad Cohen.
“We should’ve known that this guy had almost 50 guns, that he purchased them in four different states.” Coleman said, referring to Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock, “We need a national registry.”
“Thoughts and prayers, while appropriate, are not enough,” Pallone said, “We need to take action.”
“Our opponents say that not enough time has passed and that we shouldn't’t have discussion yet,” Gusciora said. “But time has passed for us to discuss Newtown, to talk about Pulse Night Club, or Columbine, or Virginia Tech, or Charleston. So the question is, when are we going to talk about it?"
"It is an honor to be here with our state and national representative as we join in an effort for reasonable gun control. We are not denying the Second Amendment, but many common sense gun-control laws have been held up in Congress over the years. Promoting guns or not endorsing change is not preserving American lives," said Cohen.
One issue brought up, which had even gained support from the National Rifle Association, was restrictions on “bump-stocks,” which enable a gun user to turn a semi-automatic weapon into an automatic one.
Pallone and Coleman also took the opportunity to rally support for gun control measures in Congress. One such measure would end a federal ban on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's researching gun violence.
“Just labeling someone as ‘crazy’ or mentally ill is not the answer and only serves to continue the stigma on people who are truly mentally ill,” said Benjamin Evans, president of the New Jersey State Nurses Association, adding that the CDC needs data to understand why shooting incidents are happening.
“Is it terrorism, is it radicalism, or is it truly a mental defect?” Evans asked.
Attendees also voiced support for a legislative proposal, “The Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act,” which would require ID for online arms sales, and for vendors to report the sale of more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition within five consecutive business days to the US Attorney General if the person buying the ammo is not a licensed dealer.
Karen Kanter, a coordinator at the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, expressed concern about the loosening of gun regulations in other states.
“Wisconsin got rid of a 48-hour-waiting period for handguns,” Kanter said. “Ohio now allow concealed carry weapons to be brought into day care facilities and airports.”
Brett Sabo, who heads the New Jersey chapter of Moms Demand Action, criticized a push to make silencers on guns more accessible.
“Making it easier to buy a silencer from a private seller would only end up with deadlier weapons being used by dangerous people who are not interested in gaming and hunting,” Sabo said. “There is a reason military use ear protection and not silencers, and it’s because they work better.”
Sabo dubbed incidents of mass shootings as a "strictly American phenomenon."