(TRENTON) — Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee Chair Charles Mainor (D-Hudson) made the following statement Wednesday as the committee began a hearing to move more than 20 gun violence prevention bills:
“Good morning everybody and welcome to today’s special hearing of the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.
“We are here today for a serious and emotional discussion, but one I hope will be held with courtesy and respect for each other’s opinions.
“We may not agree today on everything, but one thing I hope we can agree on is that we must do what’s best for the people of New Jersey.
“And there’s no denying the fact that in recent years the United States has been witness to several horrific and preventable firearms related mass tragedies.
“These tragedies have heightened awareness of the danger that exists when adequate protections are not utilized to ensure that only responsible gun owners have access to firearms.
“The incidents are seared into our memories.
“A student killing 33 people and injuring 25 more during a shooting spree on the campus of Virginia Tech.
“A lone shooter killing six people, including a nine-year old child, and injuring thirteen others, including former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, in a supermarket parking lot outside Tucson, Arizona.
“On Friday, July 20, 2012, a man opened gunfire on a packed movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, murdering 12 people and injuring 58 others.
“And on December 14, 2012, 20 school children and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut by an armed gunman in an unimaginable tragedy.
“These incidents have led parents, educators, law enforcement – everyone for that matter – to seek answers as to how best protect our innocent children, families, friends and our neighbors from such atrocities.
“And we know state lawmakers cannot win this fight alone.
“Congress, as you know, allowed the 1994 federal ban on the sale of semi-automatic assault weapons and large capacity ammunition feeding devices to expire in 2004 even though these weapons are the “weapon of choice” for drug traffickers, weapons traffickers, gangs, and paramilitary extremist groups, and have led to the deaths of one in five police officers killed in the line of duty between 1998 and 2001.
“We heard President Obama speak last night about the need to tighten federal laws.
“We here today will begin the process of doing the same thing on the state level.
“Whether it’s the streets of our New Jersey communities, a movie theater in Colorado or an elementary school in Connecticut, enough is enough is enough.
“No more talk.
“It’s time for action.
“The Assembly will show real leadership and do everything it can to better protect New Jersey residents by advancing a common sense plan to combat this scourge of gun violence that has touched us all so deeply.
“Reducing the maximum capacity of ammunition magazines is common sense.
“Banning assault-style .50-caliber weapons is common sense.
“Requiring ammunition sales to be conducted face-to-face is common sense.
“Disqualifying a person named on the federal Terrorist Watchlist from obtaining a gun is common sense.
“Requiring firearms seizure when mental health professional determines patient poses threat of harm to self or others is common sense.
“Let us not, after all, forget that 269 New Jerseyans were killed by senseless gun violence in 2011 alone – a 9 percent increase from the prior year.
“The time to get serious about protecting our children, our law enforcement officers and our communities from gun violence is long overdue.
“The tragedies have become too common and the sadness too deep.
“We recognize that we cannot put an end to each and every gun crime, but we can responsibly close the gaps and make our laws stronger for the benefit of everyone.
“With this effort, good common sense will prevail.”