As members of New Jersey Residents for Action (Against Gun Violence), on April 5 we received a letter from Congressman Leonard Lance stating that he  supports “closing gun-show loopholes and tightening the background checks on gun sales as well as toughening the penalties against gun trafficking and straw purchasers."

We are happy to see that Congressman Lance favors these measures, but when asked specifically if he supports the current bi-partisan King-Thompson bill on background checks HR 1565 in the House Of Representatives, which  encompasses all the very measures he says he supports, his  Chief of Staff Todd Mitchell had this reply:  “How this is best accomplished should be left up to the relevant committee of jurisdiction – in this case the House Judiciary Committee.”

How this is "best accomplished" is for Congressman Leonard Lance to put his name on it and encourage other Republicans to do the same, instead of playing  politics with our lives. 

Sign Up for E-News

When push comes to shove, unlike Republican King of NY and the two other Republicans from PA who have signed on as co-sponsors, instead of truly standing behind his positions Leonard Lance just runs away from them.

The current bi-partisan bill in the House of Representatives HR 1565 supporting background checks on all commercial gun sales, which is identical to the Manchin-Toomey bill, now has 176 co-sponsors. This is a golden opportunity for the congressman to truly stand by his convictions by supporting this bill and becoming a co-sponsor.

There is no question as to the public support for this issue. At the Westfield Spring Fling and at our Forum on May 1 approximately 200 eager residents signed our petition and letters supporting background checks. In a poll taken  of the 7th district by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, 92 percent of constituents supported universal background checks.

However, when this information was brought up to the Congressman in an email, the Congressman’s Chief of Staff Todd Mitchell’s response was to deny the accuracy of this poll and he said to spare him the “Does the Congressman stand with 92% of his constituents?" He then added that asking Leonard Lance to stand with the 92% of his constituents who favor background checks is an argument that is “sophomoric and belittles what is a very important and serious issue."

What is sophomoric and belittles a serious issue is the twisting and turning Congressman Lance does to avoid  taking any  meaningful action towards passing legislation that can prevent gun violence. Moreover, as a Republican supporter of  these measures, he could be leading others in his party to support this crucial bill.

There is no excuse for Congressman Leonard Lance not to publicly support and promote this new House bill that will prevent criminals and the mentally ill from obtaining deadly weapons. If someone can’t pass a background check, they should not be able to get a gun–period.

Although we applaud the Congressman for his written support of these measures, Leonard Lance’s passivity diminishes his views on gun safety. New Jersey Residents For Action (Against Gun Violence) continues to stand by our conviction that gun violence is the number one public safety issue of our time.

Therefore, we urge Congressman Leonard Lance to stand with the 90 percent  of Americans, the 92 percent  of his constituents and stand by his word by publicly supporting and co-sponsoring  the King-Thompson Bill requiring universal background checks for all commercial gun sales.

This is the only way we can make common sense gun regulation a reality.    

If his constituents can’t count on his vote for common sense background checks, then maybe Leonard Lance won’t be able to count on ours come election time.