WESTFIELD, NJ — A handgun and 130 rounds of hollow point bullets legally purchased in Delaware found their way into the hands of a man who brought them to an elementary school in Westfield two years ago an incident that was recounted on the House floor Friday as federal legislators consider stronger gun safety laws.

Rep. Tom Malinowski, a Democrat representing the Seventh Congressional District, recognized the two Westfield Police Officers — Jeffrey Johnson and Michael Pollack — who were recently honored with the Union County Prosecutor’s “Hero Award” for disarming an armed Delaware man while he sat in the parking lot of Tamaques Elementary School.

“This incident is another reminder that while we have strong gun laws in New Jersey, and one of the lowest rates of gun violence fatalities in the country as a result, many of our neighboring states do not,” Malinowski said. “And as long as our gun laws are inconsistent across state lines, those who wish to commit mass murder will find the means to do so.”

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The congressman brought up the June 13, 2019, incident as federal lawmakers take a hard look at gun safety laws amid a nationwide rise in mass shootings that has included 154 such incidents this year, according to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive, which keeps track of such reports.

President Joseph Biden earlier this month called on congress to address the “gun violence public health epidemic.”

“The recent high-profile mass shootings in Boulder — taking the lives of 10 individuals — and Atlanta — taking the lives of eight individuals, including six Asian American women — underscored the relentlessness of this epidemic,” the administration said in an April 7 statement.

While the House last month approved two bills to curb gun violence, including two measures to close loopholes in the gun background check system, Biden encouraged Congress to go further by closing loopholes that allow people the courts have found to be abusers to possess firearms, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, repealing gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability and investing in evidence-based community violence interventions, the White House statement said.

Thomas J. Wilkie, the armed Delaware man arrested at Tamaques School in Westfield in 2019, is now serving a 5-year sentence in state prison.

Email Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net | Twitter: @MattKadosh

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