Middlesex County News

Former Gov. Florio, gun violence activists, offer blueprint

ccab61456d5251bcc340_41352740672_cb4b458353_z.jpg
Former Gov. Jim Florio discusses the anti-gun measures he took as governor. Credits: Matthew Hersh
30262483fd9ab6a5d1f9_41352741662_7eae22735f_z.jpg
ccab61456d5251bcc340_41352740672_cb4b458353_z.jpg

NEW BRUNSWICK - Former Gov. James Florio recalls a curious detail about his 1974 Congressional run in New Jersey’s 1st Legislative District: He had the support of the National Rifle Association. 

In today’s political climate, a nod from the gun lobby for a Democratic candidate who supports gun control is unthinkable. But 40 years ago, it was not a big deal. 

“Back when I first ran, the NRA was focused on land conservation so hunters could hunt,” Florio said Wednesday at the Rutgers School of Social Work in New Brunswick, where he headed a panel discussion, “Gun Violence: Politics, Policy & Prevention.” 

Sign Up for E-News

It made sense. The South Jersey district is home to Camden, and surrounding areas were either suburban or semi-rural. Voters interested in hunting wanted to make sure there were areas designated for hunting. 

Today, that’s all drastically changed. Florio, who as governor signed into law a tough ban on assault weapons in 1990, said the momentum exists today to achieve similar legislative triumphs. 

“What we were able to do in 1990 was what I consider to be New Jersey's finest hour. It was an inspiration for us. We've done it before and we can do it again,” he said. 

It won’t come easy, Florio warned. 

“When I signed that bill into law, I said ‘Nobody needs an Uzi. Nobody needs an AK-47,’ and now we’re wondering if it’s reasonable to have 30 bullets in the clip. Is it reasonable that police have bulletproof jackets and yet we produce armor piercing bullets?” he said. 

“Washington is a basket case,” Florio added. “Congress prohibits research on gun violence and they’ve been doing bad things instead of good things.”

The former governor signaled to the 2018 midterm elections, saying the political climate exists to address gun violence. “Being a one-issue voter is typically not a good practice, but in this case, it might be, because pro-gun people are one-issue voters.”

The panel discussion, which was attended by mostly university students, included several grassroots anti-gun violence advocates, including the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence/Million Mom March, Moms Demand Action, and the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action. 

“We stand for common sense solutions and we want to keep guns out of hands for dangerous individuals,” said Christine McGrath of Moms Demand Action, whose platform includes background checks on all gun sales.

“One myth of advocacy is that we've made no progress, and it’s a myth because we haven't seen any progress on the federal front. But as we’ve seen in New Jersey, we can change the culture,” McGrath said. 

Tapping into on-campus advocacy and voter registration will play a prominent role in upcoming elections, McGrath noted. 

“I need you to bottle up what you're feeling about this cause, because when we get through the primaries, we're going to need you to go door-to-door and make phone calls. We are going to have very actives races where gun violence is going to be front and center,” she said. 

Karen Kanter, of the Middlesex County chapter of the Brady Campaign, said another myth was that the seemingly disparate advocacy groups are running parallel courses. 

“You have to build a coalition so we can be more effective,” she said. “Remember that you have to persist and let people know that this is not over. You have to keep it in your consciousness and remind people that 96 people die every day of gun violence.”

Carole Stiller, also of the Brady Campaign, said this level of collaboration moves all the way down to the grassroots level as well. 

“Community members need to be advocates, too. We need people to come in and tell their story,” Stiller said. 

That element is critical in advancing any movement for the long term, said the Rev. Robert Moore of the Coalition for Peace Action. 

“That's what people power looks like. That's what democracy in action looks like. We have a big challenge ahead and if you're a student and want safe schools then you better get out and vote,” Moore said. 

William Waldman, professor and executive in residence at the Rutgers School of Social Work, said the time to take action on gun violence is now, particularly in the student activist community. 

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity, because I haven't seen anything like that since the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement,” Waldman said.

"The time to act is now.”

 

 

 

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Piscataway

Polystyrene Pollution

July 3, 2018

Dear Editor,

Last month the article,  A Girl Scout Workshop that Builds Young Environmental Specialists reminded readers that it's important to educate people on issues in our environment. Our waterways are under threat from harmful plastic pollution. Americans throw away an estimated 70 million plastic foam cups and about one-third end up in waterways like rivers, lakes ...

East Brunswick's Ethan Reiss Saves the History of Who We Are

July 15, 2018

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - To some people, lists of names and pictures of locations just create a jumble of information and a confusing mass of facts.  To Ethan Reiss, a historian from East Brunswick who is working to keep facts alive, these bits and pieces come together to form a picture of who we are based on who we were in the past.

Reiss, the administrator of the popular "You Know ...

Obituaries

Hillsborough, NJ - Gina (Francoisa) Salamon, 90, died Monday, July 9, 2018 at Bridgeway Care Center ...
Read more
Piscataway – Michael John Doherty, 73, passed away Saturday June 16, 2018 in Las Vegas, ...
Read more

New Outlook Pioneers hosts 18th Music in the Park at Milt Campbell Field

July 15, 2018

Plainfield, NJ - On Thursday, August 2, 2018 at 5PM Sponsored by: The City of Plainfield (including the Cultural & Heritage and Human Relations Commissions), Mayor Adrian Mapp and the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders; along with CO-SPONSORS: New Outlook Pioneers, Mr. Plainfield (Robert Graham),TD+Partners -A Community Impact Development Firm, and Re/Max Select, Sandra L.

Cruising with Autism on the Seas

This is a event that includes the partnership and collaboration of Cruise Planners, Autism Friendly Escapes and WallynZavy's Autistic Kids Can Do!. WallynZavy's Autistic Kids Can Do is a non-profit 5013c, organization that supports families that have autistic and special needs children through advocacy, social play dates, resources, workshops, community support, seminars and family ...

RU Ready for Rutgers Football? Tickets on Sale Next Week

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - There's a lot of promotions planned this fall as part of the Rutgers football season.

Single game tickets go on sale Thursday, July 12, with seven home games. There's matchups against Big Ten East opponents Michigan and Penn State, and a first-time cross divisional meeting with Northwestern.

If football is not your thing, there's plenty ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_5ce80d6ef1e97a049d73_sivantos_piscataway_july_2018_flyer-page-001

Tue, July 17, 8:00 AM

Sivantos - Bloodmobile, Piscataway

Piscataway Emergency Blood Drive - Pair of ...

Giving Back Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_e494ac4a13e4230208bf_holy_savior_academy

Tue, July 17, 5:00 PM

South Plainfield

Holy Savior Open House July 17th

Education

Carousel_image_e494ac4a13e4230208bf_holy_savior_academy

Tue, July 17, 5:00 PM

South Plainfield

Holy Savior Open House July 17th

Education

Wed, July 18, 7:30 PM

Chatham United Methodist Church, Chatham

Masterwork’s Summer Sing Four to Feature Brahms

Arts & Entertainment

Sat, July 21, 10:00 AM

NJ Convention and Exposition Center, Edison

82nd Annual Garden State Cat Show & Expo

Giving Back Other

Police Rescue Woman Locked in Burger King Restaurant

July 14, 2018

NUTLEY, NJ - Officers from the Nutley Police Department responded to a 911 call on Sunday at 5 a.m. from a woman who was locked in the Burger King restaurant off Franklin Ave.

The woman fell asleep in the ladies room sometime prior to closing and woke up only to find all of the employees gone and the doors locked. 

Nutley police responded and entered the building to allow her to leave.

Big Changes in Store for New Jersey’s Employers and Employees

July 15, 2018

Big changes are in store for New Jersey’s workplaces, with dramatic legislation aimed at improving conditions for New Jersey’s workers. These changes include the enactment of New Jersey’s Equal Pay Act, a new law to help the unemployed, and passage of New Jersey’s Paid Sick Leave Act. Most likely one or all these laws will impact you or someone in your family.

New ...

Extra Time

It was close to 70 minutes into the match and I had to go to the bathroom.  Badly.

As fans watching the World Cup know too well, bathroom breaks are a serious dilemma, especially for those who don’t have a TV in the loo.  This biological necessity is exasperated by beer, which during World Cup matches also fuels a strong propensity to throw chairs and instigate riots.