Bismark said “Laws are like sausages. It is better not to see them being made.” Someone else might have said, “Too many cooks spoil the sausage.” In the case of New Jersey gun law reform the process has started off messy with over 30 bills introduced in the legislature – some moving forward, some being altered, and others unlikely to see the light of day. Then we have the cooks: the Governor, Sen. Barbara Buono, the Assembly, the Senate, NRA, NJ 2nd Amendment Society, Heeding God’s Call, and others. Part of making the sausages we can’t see as behind closed doors legislators, lobbyists and advocates across the spectrum have their own recipes. What we can see is often confusing and changes from day to day.
The governor’s violence task force recommended weak measures, such as limiting the sale of violent video games and changing rules on treating the mentally ill. The Governor’s personal response was tepid and failed to address key issues such as magazine size. Like others, he accepts contributions from the NRA and its advocates.
Sen. Buono called the governor’s plan “a shallow one that does nothing.” Her proposals are more robust, and include smaller magazine capacity and face-to-face sale of ammunition.
Unlike the federal government and many other states, it does appear that our legislature will pass gun bills shortly. Our governor may even sign off on some of them. A few of the more innocuous bills are actually supported by the NRA, and some have received bipartisan support.
It appears that the rift between the Assembly and Senate is healing now that Senate President Sweeney has acquiesced to advocates who in recent weeks said the package was too weak. So far the Senate has passed 10 bills and the Assembly 22 bills. Further bill reconcilation between the two houses will be needed.
The final outputput remains unclear. The sausage recipes are undergoing development in this sloppy, sometimes secretive process. I happen to like robust sausages, but I suspect only a very few will be robust, some watered down, and many will never exit the factory. We will, however, have made progress and be able to continue the fight another day for saner gun policies.