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The Times of Trenton: ‘Common sense N.J. gun control proposals focus on training, background and mental health checks’

The Times of Trenton published the following editorial here :

“The objectives of lawmakers trying to make New Jersey a safer place and those who view the legislative steps as a threat to civil liberties clashed with thunderous shouts and lightning-sharp words in the Statehouse this week.

An overflow crowd of gun rights activists spilled down the steps and into a crowd vehemently opposed to the proceedings inside where an Assembly committee finally approved about 20 gun-control measures now destined for a full vote next week.

Many of the bills are common-sense measures. Some tweak existing laws. One is merely a resolution calling on Congress to expand criminal background checks for gun purchases and enact a gun-trafficking law to block criminal purchases.

Not one of the bills advanced by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee erodes the rights of law-abiding citizens to own firearms or purchase firearms.

They do impose stricter controls that include banning magazines of ammunition with more than 10 rounds; requiring proof of firearms training before purchasing a firearm; and prohibiting the sale of bullets capable of piercing body armor.

Other proposals address mental illness with bills allowing guns to be taken from those mental-health professionals deem a danger to themselves or others as well as expanding access to mental- health treatment by increasing insurance coverage.

Another simply calls for inclusion of a photo on firearms identification cards. Yet another would allow schools and day-care centers to establish gun-free zones.

A frequent criticism of any legislative move for more control on the tide of firearms nearing 300 million in the U.S. is that it’s based on an emotional reaction to events such as the massacre of school children in Connecticut.

We’d argue that it’s impossible not to have an emotional response to the slaughter of children or the courthouse shooting of a Delaware mother or the cold-blooded killing of a Trenton 16-year-old in the middle of the day just a mile from the Statehouse.

It’s emotion amplified not by weakness, but by the frustration of standing by, helplessly, while the innocent are mowed down by weapons acquired illegally. Revising and tightening the requirements for gun ownership may be a response motivated by emotion, but also guided by reason.

NRA activists often say the answer lies in harsher penalties for those convicted of gun violence, but that after-the-fact response won’t prevent another fatal shooting on the streets of Trenton.

The comprehensive package advanced by the Assembly represents a constructive approach to the senseless killings. It also represents the will of the vast majority of New Jerseyans who favor more controls on guns and ammunition.

Doing something about this epidemic of gun violence is far better than obstructing any measure of reasonable restraint. That’s just common sense.”.