Law & Justice

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:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

South Plainfield

The Athlete of the Week Samantha Pullen Girls’ Spring Track

The South Plainfield High School Girls’ track team is off to another great start in the 2018 season.  Their record currently stands at 3-0. This past week, the Lady Tigers defeated divisional rivals Metuchen and Middlesex by the scores of 80-56 and 75-56.  They then went on to dominate Bishop Ahr by a score of 112-24.  Much of the Lady Tigers success has been due to the ...

The Athlete of the Week Tatianna Sutor Girls’ Lacrosse

The South Plainfield High School Girls’ Lacrosse team is off to a fantastic start to their 2018 season with a record of 2-0. This past week, the Lady Tigers crushed division rival Bishop Ahr by the score of 14-2, and then went on to beat Boonton 6-3.  A huge part of the success for South Plainfield has been due in a large part to the contributions of senior goalie Tatianna ...

Obituaries

Victor Kochmann, 92, passed away on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 surrounded by his loving family in ...
Read more

Letters to the Editor

Letter Welcoming Mike Zushma to Politics

April 19, 2018

Dear Editor, 

I'd like to welcome Mike Zushma to the world of politics and congratulate him on being selected as the town's Democratic Chairman.

 

I've served as Republican chair since 2009, and I've always enjoyed spending my time helping good people get elected to office.  In South Plainfield, it's never about party:  People work together and try ...

Natalie Stilo Signs with Drew University Golf Team

April 20, 2018

Natalie Stilo, Senior at Bishop George Ahr High School, has signed with Drew University's golf team. Currently, Natalie is on Bishop Ahr's golf team. Golf became her passion after her 10 year career in gymnastics ended. She has been working on her golf game and is excited to have the opportunity to play for Drew. She will attend Drew University in the Fall, majoring in Molecular Biology ...

Community Happenings

South Plainfield High School Hall Of Fame Is Seeking Nominees

April 19, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - The South Plainfield High School Hall of Fame Committee is again holding their search for candidates for induction into the SPHS Hall of Fame.  The Hall of Fame was established at South Plainfield High School to recognize outstanding graduates as leaders in their fields who could serve as role models for current and future students.

Candidates will be evaluated on ...

Kennedy School Welcomes Author Lisa Mullarkey

April 19, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Teacher and children’s author Lisa Mullarkey stopped by John F. Kennedy Elementary School on April 18. 

“This year’s guest author was very well received by our students and staff. Mrs. Mullarkey spent the day motivating our students to be future writers," said Kennedy Principal Kevin Hajduk. "It was a privilege for our students at ...

Holy Savior Academy to Hold Open House on April 24

April 18, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Holy Savior Academy, an AdvancedED accredited Middlebrook Deanery Catholic School located in South Plainfield, will hold an open house the evening of Tuesday, April 24.At this time, prospective students and their families in pre-K3 through 8th grade will have the opportunity to tour the school, meet teachers and register. 

“Holy Savior ...

Elks Lodge #2298 Hosted Princess Breakfast

April 19, 2018

The South Plainfield Elks Lodge #2298 Youth Activities Committee recently hosted a Princess breakfast, in conjunction with the South Plainfield Summer Drama Workshop.   On the menu we featured only the BEST breakfast in town.  Our lil princesses were able to come down to have their pictures taken with their favorite Disney characters. 

The South Plainfield Elks Lodge #2298 ...

Part Time Position in Municipal Court

The South Plainfield Borough is seeking to hire a part time person with strong customer service skills to perform detailed Municipal Court clerical work.

Responsibilities include but are not limited to:

Answering telephone and walk in inquiries, data entry, maintaining files and records for accuracy, processing payments, related duties as required.

Successful candidates should process ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_bbe5d2f368f320d67fab_img_3263

Sun, April 22, 1:00 PM

South Plainfield

Open House 312 Elissa Court South Plainfield

Real Estate

Carousel_image_6fa66652e238649d073e_suburban_woman_s_club

Sun, April 22, 2:00 PM

South Plainfield

Suburban Woman's Club Luncheon/Fashion Show April ...

Carousel_image_79e43290d41725d212ec_taste_of_south_plainfield_2018

Mon, April 23, 6:00 PM

South Plainfield

Taste of South Plainfield

Carousel_image_bad097ae8b2fe018094c_mayors_wellness

Sat, April 28, 9:00 AM

South Plainfield

Spring Wellness Health Fair - Mayor's Wellness

Carousel_image_5cb3a344be063f4eef87_hf_2018_updated-page-001

Sat, April 28, 9:00 AM

South Plainfield

South Plainfield's Annual Health and Fitness Fair

Carousel_image_540ba92b7ee7d0a56fba_elvis_tribute_final

Sat, April 28, 7:00 PM

South Plainfield

A Tribute to our Veterans - Jim Barone

Columns

Retro Review: Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo

Retro Review: Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo (Citadel Press, 1970)

 

How does a reviewer do justice to a book called “the great American novel”? I first read Johnny Got His Gun during the Viet Nam war, when young people, nationwide, were protesting fighting in a war that was a senseless waste of life; a war in which the United States had no business participating.

Bookmarks

Your library is a hub of education and entertainment that is available to you not just when the library is open, but at all hours, thanks to our great online resources.  

If you want to brush up on your computer skills, or learn something new, try Learning Express.  You can access it through the library’s website. Once you’ve registered (you’ll need ...

Suburban Woman’s Club Hears Presentation on WWII Air Force Service Pilots

During World War II, one thousand seventy-four aviators, all with prior experience and airman certificates, flew over 60 million miles; transported every type of military aircraft; towed targets for live anti-aircraft gun practice; simulated strafing missions and transported cargo. Thirty-eight members of this elite group lost their lives and one went missing in performing their ...

Press Releases

Bill Creating Automatic Voter Registration Now Law

April 21, 2018

TRENTON, NJ – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Speaker Craig Coughlin, Gary Schaer, Joann Downey, Daniel Benson, Benjie Wimberly, John McKeon, Mila Jasey and Nicholas Chiaravalloti to automatically register and update voter registration for those applying for a driver’s license, examination permit, probationary driver’s license or non-driver identification ...