Finding Common Ground at the Gun Legislation Forum in Teaneck

promoted by Rosi

A former Marine and LAPD police officer once said to me, when I asked why he studied theology and philosophy, “To understand a man, you first need to know what he believes.”

I was reminded of those words as I watched the Gun Safety Forum in Teaneck unfold.  Earlier, I was not optimistic the meeting would be productive.  The shouting would soon start and civility and reason would be the first casualties.  Or so I thought.

In December, like any breathing American, I was emotionally crushed by the loss of children at Newtown and have been haunted by this story.  I have family members and friends who hunt, or target shoot, or who own guns for protection, but also ones who are teachers, and parents with small children.  Like the heart-wrenching fights between brothers in any civil war, this one is a classic that has been going on since I was a child.

On Sunday, thanks to a (mostly ) civil discussion led by Laura Zucker at the Ethical Culture Society, as hard as it was for each side to hear the other, there was actual discussion and questions asked and answered. I was impressed that folks actually learned something from each other.

Before the forum, a well-dressed, serious looking young man was setting up a camera in the back of the room to capture the event.  He politely reached out his hand and introduced himself.  He was with the Second Amendment Society.  He seemed earnest and polite, not what I expected after watching Alex Jones on Piers Morgan, but I realized at that moment, I, myself had been biased before walking in the door. I would withhold judgment until I heard what he had to say.  He obviously wanted to be taken seriously, which was what this forum was for.  The legislators already knew what the anti-gun side believes.  This was a real chance, in a proper setting, to hear what the gun rights side believed.  Hopefully it would be shared with a minimum of shouting.

Present on the Panel were:

Congressman Bill Pascrell, who is very involved with the Law Enforcement community, and who had sponsored the assault weapons ban

Second Amendment Society representative Alexander Roubian

Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, former member of the US military and also former Police Officer

State Senate Majority Leader, Loretta Weinberg

Million Mom March representative Dr. Asyah Aquil

The short notice of the event kept the crowd to a manageable, and intimate size of about 60 people – evenly split.  They naturally and wordlessly gravitated to separate sides of the room. The gun rights on the right and the gun control on the left.  

Before Zucker began by allowing each panel member to give an opening statement, she laid out the ground rules and that all voices would be heard.  Throughout the forum I would appreciate Zucker’s no nonsense ability to quell unrest. No shrinking violet, this 4 ft 11 inch tall Democratic firecracker  would handle the hecklers like the feisty Jewish Grandmother she is.  I credit her with keeping the discussion on track.  Explaining up front that she grew up in Brooklyn and learned as a child to handle a switchblade just so that she would know how to protect herself from potentially being attacked while walking around her changing neighborhood (though she never carried one), gave her more street cred than your average grandmother.  She was going to take garbage from exactly no one and she delivered on that promise.

Congressman Pascrell, helped sponsor the assault weapons ban in the past and stated because of the descriptions of the guns involved, it is necessary to have gun owners in on discussion. In addition, he has been working hard to get more police on the streets, because the police are who we pay to protect us.  Protecting our families (another point of common ground) was easier with more cops on the street.  He understood the need to protect your family but asked “Do I need a cannon in the living room?” Gun trafficking is a major issue with illegal guns entering NJ from the South, and in places like Mexico, guns are actually flowing from the US into Mexico. The aim is not to prevent people from owning guns, but to keep folks from obtaining them illegally. Another issue no one likes to discuss is mental health – particularly military veterans, who  are at high risk for suicide. He also mentioned that Gabby Giffords was a good friend of his and a motivating force for him.  

Alexander Roubian of the Second Amendment Society quickly and emphatically said he did not represent the NRA.  Roubian did not think about guns for years, until a man was gunned down behind him as he walked down the street one day.  He felt helpless as the man’s life slipped away before his eyes.  After that event, he legally purchased a gun, learned how to use it, but at the same time searched for answers why the teens in gangs would turn to gun violence.  He interviewed gang members and tried to find meaning from the senseless crime he witnessed. He firmly believes it is not so much the influence of violent culture, but poverty, joblessness and lack of education.  Alexander’s story was compelling and explained his earnest beliefs.

Assemblyman Gordon Johnson then spoke about his background in the military and as a police officer. He has been instrumental in trying to address gang violence.  He laid out the case for stricter background checks and training. He stated that the key is to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

Majority Leader Weinberg and Congressman Pascrell reiterated that nothing in the entire package of bills, which was distributed in a handout to everyone, would abridge the rights of legal gun owners to exercise the Second Amendment.  The Second Amendment is safe from repeal.  The Historic New Bridge Landing, which Loretta is involved with often has re-enactors using guns prominently in most events there.  Guns have been in our history since it’s very beginning. We need to change our present culture of violence if we hope to address the problem.

Dr. Aquil talked of her experiences dealing with gun crimes in Newark. She spoke of better background checks, and stopping illegal gun trafficking.  There are so many unsolved murders when gun violence happens in the city.  She said ask a 14 year old in the city where they can get a gun, and they know how to get one.

One of the issues that came up was ammunition sales. The gun owners said they already need to provide an FID for purchase of ammunition online. Weinberg promised she would look into that issue. She had been under the impression that internet sales could be done without it.

Another gun owner who brought his wife and baby with him said he does bear hunting and that he needs a 50 caliber gun to participate in that sport. Gordon Johnson promised to look into that issue as well.

One of the gun owners stated that he realized there needs to be some regulation. They are not interested in creating a “Wild West” atmosphere and that it is obvious he cannot have a rocket launcher or a nuclear weapon in his house.  The gun safety folks seemed relieved to hear that.  

However, there were a few moments  where audience members (on both sides) got upset and spoke out of turn.  The first episode was when gun owners interrupted the Congressman.  They mentioned a Supreme Court ruling that allegedly states that the police do not have a duty to protect the public. Because of that, they felt an obligation to take their own protection on their shoulders. They are worried that criminals like unarmed citizens. Like sitting ducks, if law-abiding citizens are denied guns, only the criminals will have them. As the Congressman tried to explain the actual oaths that police officers take, he was shouted down.  Laura handled the disruption quickly by mentioning she represents two Native American Tribes to the government. If these people, who have been massacred and discriminated against can come to the table and talk with the government who oppressed them, surely we can have a civil conversation and respect each other’s opinion?  The room settled down and the gun advocate who broke the decorum said humbly “My apologies”.  

At this stage , Loretta chose two bills that she thought at least everyone could all agree on, perhaps – 3510 – needing proof of firearm safety training and 3687 – which disqualifies someone on the terrorist watch list from buying a firearm.

The gun rights folks were going for neither.  Their argument on the first was that training was not necessary because law abiding folks get training already on their own or their Dads teach them.  I was trying to be impartial, but this argument struck me as magical thinking.  Besides, they said, you cannot treat getting a gun like driving a car because one is a “right” and the other a “privilege”.  You cannot impose a training requirement on something that is a “right”. The other argument against the watchlist was that they said there is no way to get off the watchlist if you are on it erroneously.  Loretta mentioned that there is a procedure for appealing being on the watchlist but she would look into that complaint. At the same time, she stated that although you have a right to a gun, she had the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Your right should not make her right less important.

At this moment a Professor of Human Rights from Columbia spoke up and stated that no right is absolute.  You have the right to practice your religion, but not the right to gather your religious friends, stand in front of my house at 3 am, and sing Gregorian chants. When rights conflict those rights must be re-contoured to achieve resolution.

Then a young former soldier, spoke up.  Markus Hirschhorn, a sharp shooter and gun expert in the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) proudly admitted owning an AR-15 at home. He stated that the concept of rights as, he had a right to own a gun, but not the right to shoot people.  The ” illegal “parts of a rifle make it safer and more stable to shoot.  He then unwittingly unleashed the most volitile moment of the forum.  This was in Teaneck, with a large Jewish population.  Although Hitler and Nazi comments were blessedly absent, one of the members of the audience asked the former soldier – “Is a citizen allowed to have an AR-15 at home in Israel?”  He said “yes”.  The audience member asked “which part of Israel?” knowing that the average citizen is NOT allowed to own an AR- 15 weapon, the soldier replied “The West Bank”.  A vocal uproar ensued.  “The West Bank is not Israel!”. The soldier retorted forcefully  “Yes it is!” and turned to defiantly glare at his questioner.  It escaped no one that even the parts of the Middle East with the most guns are the most dangerous.  Laura stepped in and quelled the outbursts.  Nobody wanted to litigate the occupation debate.  Laura reminded everyone that she grew up in Brooklyn and knew how to keep order.  Nothing like a Jewish grandmother to get everyone back in line.

Now the gun safety advocates got a turn.  I was actually surprised by the vitriolic tone of the gun safety folks.  That made the defensive attitude of the gun owners understandable.  Laura had to do some calming on this side of the room as well.

Statistics were brought up that people who lived in a home with a gun were 22 times more likely to be the victim of gun violence.  At this point Roubian mentioned that he is a gun safety trainer. Loretta looked incredulously at him and asked why, if he is against requiring training, does he give training? She was advocating a new “cottage industry” for guys just like him.  The irony of being against gun safety training requirement while being a gun safety instructor was completely lost on the earnest, serious Mr. Roubian, although it garnered laughter in the room.  

Gun violence in Chicago was a problem because the gun laws in the state of Illinois are lax. Someone else spoke of a teenager who got a gun to protect himself but it accidentally killed his neighbor.  

The watershed moment that clarified the comments by the gun rights advocates into a coherent point was when Laura said that anyone caught committing a crime with a gun should see a more severe punishment.  The hearty applause in the room from everyone regardless of their side was a surprise.  Finally, common ground and a useful insight for further discussions.

Nobody wants to be profiled ahead of time.  Young men of color experience it every day, and after Newtown, gun owners, justly or not, feel like they are being treated like criminals before the fact.   Which explains the word choices. “We are law-abiding citizens”.  “Patriots”.  “Americans”.  When a gun rights advocate calls himself a Patriot, he is not saying that the non-gun owner is not an American.  He is simply saying that HE or SHE – the gun owner, is not a criminal.  They are sensitive to being treated like they are about to commit a crime when they are simply exercising their right to own a gun.  Us vs. Them to a gun owner  appears to be the law-abiding citizen who owns a gun vs the criminal that would do him harm, break into his home, hurt his family and make him need the gun.  It seems that the plaintive cry I heard at the forum was simply. “I’m not the bad guy here.  The criminals are – go after THEM.” And so, the one coherent point everyone could actually agree on yesterday was that gun crimes should be punished more heavily than they are.  Gun owners want criminals off the streets just as much as non gun owners do.  Common Ground.

Now how do we do that?  The problem is an age old one. How do you know a person is about to commit a crime? Many folks who commit these mass shootings are law abiding citizens – until they aren’t.  Criminals don’t wear scarlet letters either.  In the film the Minority Report, the police begin to arrest folks BEFORE they commit crimes.  As you can see, doing that has its problems.  We do have an obligation to try to prevent these problems without demonizing folks who are “law-abiding”.  In Newtown the guns were legally purchased, but they were used to commit a crime by someone without a prior criminal record.   In cities the problem is not assault rifles as much as illegal handguns. We have a multifaceted problem that needs a multi-pronged approach.  Despite magical thinking, people do die of gun accidents and gun training cuts down on that. Mental illness itself is not a crime and people can and do shoot in moments of passion and despair and these facts should be accounted for.  Deterrents don’t matter in these cases. Access does. We need to realize that the laws are not there to inconvenience folks or insult them, but to make society safer. How we get there is the challenge as Congressman Pascrell said. And we can’t escape the fact that the common denominator in all mass shootings is the presence of a gun. It is the 800 lb AR-15 in the room. Discussions on preventing mass shootings need to include guns. A gun is kind of necessary to a mass shooting, is it not?

One exchange revealed the intractable nature of the debate up to now.  One woman stood up and stated that the gun owners seemed “fearful” and “paranoid”.  Then a gun owner stood up and politely asked “How many of you want to outlaw guns, period?  Be honest now.” I admit I was surprised.  Out of about 30 people, 8 raised their hands.  “That is what we are afraid of.”  The gun owner said.  Then respectfully another audience member stood up and asked the gun owners what laws would they be amenable to.  The gun owners basically said, None.  One very passionate guy who reminded me of the House Republicans said that any compromise would have to start with the Legislators repealing half the gun laws already on the books.  

That a relatively civil discussion was able to happen at all is a huge first step.  NJ gun owners felt like they were railroaded this week because they did not understand the legislative process.  They were upset because the vote to bring it to the floor for debate happened before they weighed in.  They did not realize that a committee vote is not the whole legislative body and that there is time to get their voices heard before the votes to pass a bill. Hopefully they understand their legislators are willing to hear them out and that speaking reasonably is the best way to get not only your voice heard, but your message.

At the end of the discussion, Roubian looked beaten and sad and I could see that he was disappointed. He said he was unhappy that the issues he brought up of poverty and lack of opportunity and education were not really even discussed.   In all the talk in the room by others of background checks and how much it costs to be a gun owner, and that you cannot kill that many people with just your hands, and rights, and privileges, the points he brought up appeared to be lost.   I don’t think he realized just what a success the forum was. It was a rare civil discussion on a very emotional issue.  Don’t worry, Mr. Roubian, we were listening.

Comments (27)

  1. Fant0m

    Though we disagree.. I wanna thank the author for what seems to be objective understanding of our Boy Roubian. Hes a good man and an intelligent individual.. He represents the Average/Best of us.

    Thank you for not painting him as some monster because he Owns a gun, or believes in the 2nd Amendment.

    You’re right.. I think we did find common ground. Even if he did seem pretty alone on that panel.

  2. joeschmo

    I would like to thank the moderator at this forum, she was fair, truly fair. Our elected officials rammed 23 bills down the throat and completely sidestepped due process as it is known in America. I think this forum was a good discussion. I just hope people can start to distinguish between thugs with guns and people who own guns. One thing that always makes me mad is when I hear ‘we need these guns off of our streets’. I get mad because mine are never on the street, but safe at home, in a big safe…It takes a person with intent to make something bad happen no matter what the object of force is.  

  3. carolh (Post author)

    in having more of these kinds of forums to keep folks talking to each other.  Both sides should contact her to get more of these events happening.  

  4. carolh (Post author)
  5. teaneckresident1

    I went to this meeting expecting to run into the typical Second Amendment type of folks that are dressed in camouflage and are screaming “from my cold dead hand”. I admit I was stereotyped and I’m ashamed of that.  The pro-gun rights folks really impressed me and proved me wrong. They were decent family people and peaceful not bunch of toothless screaming hillbilly’s.  They were a diverse group of fathers, sons, women and wives.  And most impressive they were all well spoken and gentle, yes, there were some emotional moments but that was to be expected.

    I learned a many things during the three hour discussion.

    1. I do not know enough about the guns to formulate a proper opinion and I need to learn more.

    2. Not all Pro-Second Amendment people are out of control screaming, senseless people on a rampage. They are sensible people that want to reduce violence.  I am willing to bet the senseless people on a rampage are the .0005% minority.

    3. We were all talking about guns but one young man stated that we are all missing the point. I believe he is pro-gun. And he was right, we need to address our violent society.  He then made one statement that will forever change the way I think about pro-gun owners. He said that the Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh how killed 168 people including 19 children did not use a gun. He used violence and his weapon was a bomb. So, do we ban Haul trucks and fertilizer?  This young man is right. We need to stop addressing the object and being addressing why people are so violent.

    4. Have our representatives actively engaged these obviously intelligent, civil folks and knowledgeable folks from the NJ Second Amendment Society and asked their advice?  I believe not.  Even Loretta Weinberg  admitted that she did not know much about guns. Markus Hirschhorn then explained away many of the misconceptions I had about an “assault weapon”.   This makes me think, why are we making decisions about things few of us know very much about?  When we do not fully understand something we should seek the advice of those that do. I know now I have made a mistake and must become more educated about firearms.

    5. I also realized that non of these laws will stop or reduce violence which is our goal as a society.

    6. My view has been changed since this meeting. I believe that we need to engage the people we met before we make laws so that they may educate our leaders further. Secondly, I will now hold our leaders personally responsible and liable if these laws do not reduce or stop violence.

    Thank you to the New Jersey Second Amendment Society for educating me, I admit I was wrong as many of us are.

    To all our NJ Representatives but especially Ms. Weinberg and Mr. Johnson please engage the members you met at this meeting. I think we all need to learn from them. I admit all I knew about guns were from what I saw in television and the movies. I was very wrong.

  6. teaneckresident1

    I attended my second Ethical Culture Society talk on the gun issue. I have to say the more I hear our law makers talk the less and less I am for these new laws.  First Miss Weinberg stated that she knew nothing about guns. That makes me very uncomfortable, why is she sponsoring or crafting Bills that may become law on a subject she knows nothing about? This is not good. We as rational people not republicans or democrats need to take notice of this because someday our own party law makers will craft laws that affect us on a subject they know nothing about. This is just plain irresponsible on her part.

    Secondly, she flat out said that these laws would no affect criminals.   I was under the impression that these laws would affect criminals and make us safer.  I was under the impression that they would help prevent the next Sandy Hook or Colorado theater shooting.  The truth is that they won’t was these new laws will not affect the criminals.  

    Until recently I did not know how difficult it is to legally purchase a gun in NJ until I called the Teaneck PD and asked.  I have to go to the ID Bureau on Wednesday between 11 am and 1 PM. Pick up forms and return them. That’s two days off from work.  I then have to go get finger printed, another day off from work. Finally when I get a call that my permits are ready I once again have to go tot he Teaneck PD on a Wednesday between 11 AM and 1PM to pick them up.  That’s a total of four days off just to get my permits.  I then asked if the the permits are good until U purchase a gun. I was surprised to find out that the permits are only good for 90 days (they may extended the permit for another 90 days, but that means another day off and then another day off to pick up the permit).  SO now I’m up to five days off from work.

    This is when I really realized that no criminal is going to go through this and if these laws will not affect criminals and make us safer than we need to take a step back and craft laws that go against the law breakers and not the folks I saw at the two meetings.

    Fellow Jersey Blue members, realize that these laws will not make us safer and crack down on criminals. These laws will do nothing for us. I’m glad I attended these two talks as I have realized that we need a better way to stop violence and it’s not with these laws. I for one am now against these laws.  I want laws that will make us safer from criminals, not the guy down the block who is law abiding.

  7. teaneckresident1

    Perhaps we can ask the Ethical Culture Society to host a talk where we can ask the folks from the Second Amendment Society to attend a friendly and I want to stress friendly session that would educate us more on guns and the current processes to obtain one?  Not so much so that we can get permits but so that we can learn about this from their side.

    Let me put it this way, it’s one thing to read about who to swim and another to learn how to swim. I admit, in this case I had only read about how to swim.  

  8. carolh (Post author)

    appointment of the head of the Agency that oversees firearms nationally, and they need to stop blocking funding for any research on firearms.  Then perhaps we could take anything they say seriously.  As for NJ gun owners, you seem to think their is a clear bright line currently separating criminals and yourselves, and the mentally ill.  However , even normal folks in moments of passion or despair can do awful things and  when a gun is present can quickly do something they regret  – like suicide.  Also, legal gun owners may be living with someone who is not well.  What do you think of those situations? Which have been the experience of families I knew. The world is not as cut and dry as you may perceive it.  What should we do with legal gun owners who do not secure their weapons which are then used by an unwell family member?  How can we prevent THOSE crimes? Some families actually have to lock up their cutlerly.  You don’t want to inconvenience a gun owner but appear to have no problem putting scarlet letters on those battling mental illness. We do need to address mental illness. But someone suffering from depression is no more a criminal than a legal gun owner with no intent to kill someone.  And people change over their lifetimes.  Human events can intrude and cause someone who was a legal gun owner who got his license 5 years ago to become mentally ill and you folks don’t want him to be re-evaluated every so many years. We do take away drivers licenses from folks who can no longer see the road or operate a car.  The same should be true of a gun owner who is no longer mentally fit to carry a gun – even if it is a “right”.

  9. carolh (Post author)

    He was a good spokesman for you all. His real desire to do something about this problem came through.  We really do need to work together.  It is the only way to do this right….

  10. carolh (Post author)

    come up with some ideas and present them to the legislators.  They do not understand guns the way you folks do, and they need help to do this right. After the forum, Senator Weinberg mentioned that she learned a lot from you all.  Don’t despair that your voice is not being heard. It is.  

  11. joeschmo

    But the truth is, its seems like the ‘cool kids effect’. Here is what I mean. Senator Weinberg may have learned more about what we are talking about on this issue, but then she goes to Trenton, and the ‘cool kids’ take over and she forgets what she heard, reasonable people suggesting huge flaws in laws that have bad consequences for people who have not contributed to gun violence. That is where the issue begins. They seem very comfortable leaving our voices 100% out of the process. To me that is scary. I know they will never ban guns, that would be the end of this country as we all know it. But as Americans, regardless of the issue, we should be very vocal when our government sidesteps the process created to keep common ground. I am local in Bergen and would be happy to host a ‘small’ educational session to help ‘the other side’ understand ‘our side’. I take heart in your response, I just hope you are right, because after the assembly passed all of these bills, I drove home with tears in my eyes. This will be the straw that makes this Jersey Boy take his family west of the Delaware, and my 5 figure property tax bill can stay behind.

    Thank you.  

  12. joeschmo

    And happy to assist you and any other ‘thinking’ person to learn more on this issue.

    Please contact me at if I may be of assistance.

    Thank you.  

  13. Erik Preuss

    But until we find a means of addressing that should everything else be ignored? No the gun itself doesn’t kill a person, but the accessibility to that gun certainly makes it easier.

    I’m not completely anti-firearm, but I do think we have issues with  guns. If not being able to hunt bear is the sacrifice for not having a .50 caliber bullet, than I think that’s a small sacrifice.

    If a gun owner isn’t willing to comply with 3-6 hours of training to ensure they aren’t a danger to their community, than that strikes me as an unreasonable person. You can’t make the “a car is a privilege argument” when guns designed to be instruments of death. Yes it is a right, but asking people to learn how to act in a responsible matter is not a big deal.

    I’m just miffed by some of the debate here. Why is a background check a big deal? No one who is pro-gun has yet to adequately explain this to me. If you have a history of a sound, non-violent mind, I have no qualms with you owning a gun. But if you don’t, then I have a big problem with you owning a gun. It isn’t as if we are asking people to undergo a public physical examination.

    Teaneckreident1 you say your mind was changed, but in what way? Do you now believe that we shouldn’t have background checks?

    I don’t believe gun owners are inherently criminal. And I don’t believe that we should be taking all of their guns. And I agree that our culture has more to do with gun violence than actual guns. That being said, I do think safeguards are necessary to protect the population from individuals who are unstable and shouldn’t own a gun. I’m not saying I have every answer, but I do know that both sides should be negotiating. For gun owners to say they are willing to come to the table and then reject something as small as a training requirement or keeping members of the terrorist watch group from owning a gun, than they are coming off as not being serious.  

  14. joeschmo

    to me at

    Thank you.

  15. joeschmo

    I am happy to see you are getting it! We know that the legislature has not wanted nor has been interested in learning here. Thanks to these forums, you are starting to see that we as gun owners are afraid. Things I have owned for decades will suddenly be illegal. My family will have to leave NJ and our 5 figure property tax bill behind. It is a shame when our legislature has been able to fool people. Now they have touched on the second amendment right of people but not for crime control, but seemingly for control of people. It sounds paranoid, but if you read the content of these proposed laws, you can see it for what it is. For example, no private sales. Well they are trying to ‘close the gun show loop hole’. Problem is, gun shows are outlawed in NJ, so there are no gun shows that take place here in NJ. Why legislate on a non issue? Is it because people are just handing guns out to others? No, each gun that is legally transferred in NJ has a piece of paper attached to it, no paper, 5 years in jail for illegal gun possession. If you read that law regarding private sales, you will see that basically grandpa can go to jail for giving grandson a bb gun. Its really the law, it would be a crime of the 4th degree, 18 mo in jail and 10k fine. Sorry grandpa, Loretta thinks you are the next Adam Lanza, so we cannot transfer this gun to your grandson, in what would have been a family matter before Loretta’s laws. I am also pleased to see people finally making the distinction between me, and a criminal. Criminals dont obey the law. Just because I own guns does not mean I have more likelyhood to kill someone. I dont have the right to kill someone. I am a law abiding citizen, nobody should be concerned with what we own. We are not the problem. 2 years ago they pushed this 1 gun a month law on us because supposedly all of these people were going through the process you just described. Now, according to Loretta, all of those people were purchasing multiple guns and selling them to gangs. She said, that gangs have people who go through the process you describe above, get an id, and then get a bunch of guns and sell them to the gang. None of this was ever proven to be true. Now she was in there today talking about the iron pipeline that has existed for years. So which is it? Gun owner or not, this has to aggravate you because its simply lies to promote an agenda. The problem the Democrats in NJ ran into this time around was an organized community of gun owners who are fed up with being treated like lepers. All of our friends who dont have guns wanted to come to our house when people were breaking in and robbing apartments….when you call the cops, you call a man with a gun…the irony…I am glad the truth is coming out. No gun owners wants crazy people having guns. Its just that simple.  

  16. A.V. El-Hepta

    …to invite the local police to give this talk rather than the 2nd Amendment Society. The police are more familiar with the nuances of the gun laws.

  17. A.V. El-Hepta

    I realize that the NRA and the Second Amendment Society are two different interest groups, but perhaps you can help me understand the NRA’s position. They are opposed to any research into the causes of gun violence, and consequently, they have had Congress shut down what might be useful insights into why and how guns are used in violent crime. Does the Second Amendment society share the NRA’s position on this? Can you explain why the opposition to basic research into this area?

  18. teaneckresident1

    How about inviting both. The police may know more about the laws and Second Amendment Society would be able to answer things from the perspective of the average citizen rather than a law enforcement officer.

  19. carolh (Post author)

    and the Second Amendment folks are representing gun owners. I have family members who quit the NRA when they realized who they were really representing.  I would much rather talk to the Second Amendment folks than the NRA.  Gun makers want to sell more guns, period.  Gun owners, however, have some valid points and concerns. But neither side can get a handle on just how to prevent violence while the NRA clouds the debate and prevents us from getting real data.

  20. joeschmo

    its a lack of reporting and the NRA saw it was a waste of money. Nobody reports gun violence, only murders. You have no idea how many times per day a gun saves a life.

    In regards to the local PD and gun laws. The local PD’s are very busy and dont devote alot of resources to gun permitting. The best people to bring to that are not the local PD, but the NJSP, who administers firearms laws in NJ. Local PD’s just enforce the laws and trust me, alot of cops are woefully unaware of the nuances of the library of NJ gun laws.

    Your best bet would be to call the NJSP firearms permitting division and see if they can send a detective to come speak. Besides, the NRA and NJ2AS are made up of people who these laws would turn into criminals. Dont you think we know these laws and their affects better than the Senator?

    My other question is while you are focusing on the NRA’s block of this reporting the reality is America does not care for its mentally ill in a fashion that shows we care. We close mental homes down with frequency in this state. We cut social services to mentally ill, we mainstream them now. Secondly, the cause of gun violence is simple, human intention. You cannot judge the intention of all people who are gun owners, but you can judge the intentions of criminals who have guns. I think again, education and a clear distinction of criminals with a gun, vs regular normal person with a gun.

    A gun left with a person who has no intention of killing is just a piece of metal.  

  21. A.V. El-Hepta

    If, as you contend, “you have no idea how many times a per day a gun saves a life”, then the NRA and 2AS should be all for academic research on gun usage to verify these claims. Without basic peer-reviewed scientific research, everything else is just conjecture.

  22. joeschmo

    If not, then you should get educated.

    I am not suggesting you go bear hunting, but if you shoot a bear with something smaller, you will most likely be attacked and will have wounded an animal, which no hunter wants to do. That .50 cal bullet is being shot out of a muzzleloader, they type used in the 1700’s. You still take issue? Its a lack of education on one side of this issue. Its not about why you cannot understand why someone needs something. Its about your lack of understanding of the issue that would help you become educated as to why someone would need something, or take issue with ‘universal background checks’. If I may, I would like to break these down for you, respectfully:

    1) Training requirement: What if I told you that you need to take a public speaking course before you can use your first amendment right? Now, No gun owner is advocating for non safe gun owners, please understand we are all human and we dont want any one who does not know how to use a weapon creating danger. But I was taught to shoot by my father, gun saftey by my father, etc. That was 28 years ago. So by asking people to act in a responsible manner is a given. Why the state would need to tell me that beyond common sense. Most times, if someone at the range does not know how to operate they ask, and they are shown. Gun owners are quite a friendly bunch, willing to share. Training is expensive. Will the taxpayers of NJ subsidize this as well? If it is for safety’s sake, then they should, and they should run courses on a weekly basis so as not to further infringe.

    2) Background checks are done already. Why the redundancy? Did you read the text of the proposed law? Did you know that under the proposed law a grandfather can go to jail for 18 months for gifting a BB gun to his grandson? The way this law is written is to make you believe they have closed the ‘gun show loophole’. Stay with me here. There are no gun shows in NJ. Gun shows are illegal. Under the guise of ‘no private sales’ they are attempting to stop what you see on the news, guys going outside of a gun show and buying a gun from a guy in a car with no questions asked. So I ask you, if there are no gun shows allowed why are they saying no private sales? Did you know that in NJ there is no such thing as a private sale? Each gun pistol, rifle, shotgun, has a ‘piece of paper’ that must stay with that gun until transferred or sold. Those papers must be filled out by both parties, and kept with each gun. So now I ask you, why are we legislating on a non issue that does not happen? Read the law. Learn about the issue. A background check happens each time a gun is transferred in the state of NJ. Look up NJSP form sts-033. Guess what, if you have mental issues, and are violent, then I too have a big problem with you owning a gun.

    I am not sure why you would think gun owners would want to be around unstable people with guns. I dont get it.

    3) You do not believe the gun owners are inherently criminal. Yes, you are now starting to get it. Please make the distinction in your mind of a law abiding person who owns firearms, and a criminal who illegally possesses a gun. Its 2 very different things. Keep in mind that a criminal is not waiting on what the legislature does before they commit their next violent act. While gun owners who are law abiding wait with baited breath to see if they will become criminals overnight due to some of this nonsense legislation that is being proposed here.

    4) You say ‘negotiaiting’, as a business owner I know negotiation very well. NJ has no interest in ‘negotiating’ with NJ gun owners. We should be talking about roll back of gun laws in NJ. Like the one that says, in essence, if I get a flat tire or need to get gas on the way back from the range, the moment I turn off of my route to get gas, or fix my flat, I am now just as guilty of gun possession as the guy who just stuck of the corner store with a gun. Is that fair and just to classify me the same way because I had an unforeseen circumstance on the way home? Negotiation is not of interest to NJ legislators. They do not want people to own guns in NJ. Furthermore, 2 years ago they came and said that gangs are making straw purchases of multiple firearms and then giving them to gang members and then reporting them stolen to the local PD. This is why we need a law that says you can only buy one handgun a month. It was a public safety issue.

    In reality, there was never an issue. Can you imagine a chief of police in NJ that is OK with the same person calling multiple times saying they had a gun stolen from the same address over and over and did nothing? FANTASY. Pure and simple. 2 years later, and NJ is still 4th in gun crime at the hands of gang violence.

    If you think safeguards are needed to stop people with mental issues from doing harm to the public, then maybe, just maybe NJ should not be closing down all of these facilities and mainstreaming them. You cannot legislate total safety. Humans are human, period. That has nothing to do with what a gun owner has in their safe, because those guns are not on the street causing crime, they are in a big safe.

    Lastly, whether you like guns or not, you really dont know what you are talking about until you actually go through the process of gun ownership in NJ. Then you will have a ‘EUREKA’ moment and realize that there is no issue in NJ. NJ has a criminal problem, not a ‘gun owner control’ problem. Coming back to your last point, when you know the issues and the affect you know clearly who is not coming off as ‘not serious’. Dont be like some in our legislature and talk about things you know very little about and try to formulate policy on emotion and ignorance. No disrespect.  

  23. joeschmo

    The only reports you get are of gun deaths. Far and few between of defensive usage of guns. Only if they make the news, with headlines as ‘mother of 2 fends off criminals with gun!’, and that sort of thing. If you do not believe that guns are not used to save lives and protect people then I would be dead now. Now obviously I am biased?!

  24. joeschmo

    Did you know it is already a crime for a person who does not have the proper license credentials from the proper authorities in NJ to even pick up a gun? So if someone accesses my guns and kills themselves I am going to be in big trouble. That is the law already. In regards to re-evaluating. If you see mental illness as such a strong problem, you should really be advocating for NJ to keep these facilities open. If you think NJ gun owners wish to have mentally ill people touching their guns you are very mistaken. Are you proposing that every 5 years, every gun owner go see a psychiatrist to see if they have become mentally ill? Did you know that in 1964 US Senator Dodd had the gun laws of the 3rd Reich translated into English so they could be used here in the US? Who is mentally ill? The people who use the words of mass murders to implement social policy? Or the people who say that a right does not expire every 5 years, and you need to see a psychiatrist to partake of that right. One could say that argumentative people should not have a first amendment right because arguments cause fights, and fights lead to violence. The more and more I comment on here, I am seeing a recurring thread. Please dont see my post as disrespectful but a severe lack of education or misinformation has been layered on you. I think that if you really want to understand this issue, you need to educate yourself. Not by the words of the NRA, the NRA is out for the NRA….Does anyone know of Aaron Zelman? Have you ever been to the site for ‘Jews For The Preservation Of Firearms Ownership’. There are alternate views on this issue from the NRA.

    Again, some of the suggestions above are a plain invasion of peoples privacy. You almost suggest that gun owners be subject to extra scrutiny by virtue of the fact that they own a gun, yet dont cause the crime. Your first point that a moment of passion does not pertain to only guns, you can do stupid things with a boat, a car, a hammer, a bananna, a telephone call…on and on. Please educate yourself if you really want to understand why 99% of NJ gun owners are opposed to any further curtailing of their rights. We are talking about laws that will make people like me into a criminal overnight for things I own, keep in mind I have done nothing wrong under the law. But now I am a criminal for things I own under the law because I may do something bad? Lastly, you know that all of this will be tied up in litigation if it ever see’s its way out of the Senate and past the Guv. So the taxpayers of NJ fund another failed attempt by the state of NJ, in their ZEAL on this issue to defend a loss in federal courts. There is alot of talk about mental illness. Truth be told, I never met a gun owner that I was not comfortable with. NJ gun owners are some of the best vetted people out there. Also, did you know that the sponsor of the no guns if you are on the no fly list has a well known history of support for the Irish Republican Army? Dont you find that ironic that he himself could be on that list and he would never know it. Also, if you figure out how to get yourself off the list, please let the legislature know.

    I want to emphasize the lack of education on your part. Please educate yourself before you ask ‘why would you have a problem with that?’. If you need help with this education, please ask a gun owner.

  25. joeschmo
  26. Erik Preuss

    What i said is this:  If not being able to hunt bear is the sacrifice for not having a .50 caliber bullet, than I think that’s a small sacrifice. Hunting bear isn’t a matter of life and death, and doesn’t serve any real purpose other than sport.

    And comparing having to undergo training to own a gun to having to undergo speech training to practice your first amendment rights is insane. Last time i checked your first amendment rights don’t have the ability to take a life. Gun owners aren’t being taken seriously because of comments like that.

    And you are right, the state government probably doesn’t have any interest in negotiating, and do you know why? Because many gun owners have difficulty looking at this issue rationally. Yea our society is inherently violent and we have a problem with crime, I don’t dispute that. But making certain guns less accessible will make a different in gun violence, maybe not a major one, but any positive difference is a step in the right direction–at least in my opinion.

    Has anyone said anything about a “gun owner control” problem? i have yet to hear that from anyone other than you and other gun owners.  

  27. joeschmo

    Are you of the belief that these weapons are being used in crimes? Can you point to one crime that involved a .50 cal gun? Now lets be clear. There is a .50 cal semi automatic rifle, and there are .50 cal muzzleloaders.

    The .50 cal semi auto rifle weighs about 50 lbs, is about 4.5 feet long and costs upwards of 10k. Clearly nobody is shoulderfiring this type of rifle. On the other hand, a .50 cal used for hunting a long rifle, which is muzzleloaded. If you think banning a state sanctioned sport, an art as ancient as man, hunting will save one life then you are mistaken. There is no permission slip someone needs from someone who knows very little about the topic. It is also irresponsible for you to suggest what other grown adults should do. Do you really care that much about what others do? Is a hunter with a .50 cal bothering you?

    To me it is insane that you dont think words kill. More kids have killed themselves because of the words of a bully or abusive parent then have ever been killed with an assault rifle. That is a fact. Gun owners are taken very seriously, why do you think NJ dems are in full damage control mode? Holding monthly meetings to ‘sell’ the agenda? On your last point, it shows me how woefully ignorant you are on this topic. Get an original opinion please. Look at the legislation, learn about gun permitting in NJ, learn about the responsibility and seriousness we take our gun rights, and gun responsibilities. You will never find a cleaner community than NJ gun owners. We are so vetted that we actually qualify for top secret clearance at the NSA. Yet, your suggestion is to further ban things, specifically hunting.  


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