Midterm Issues: Part VII – Gun Control, festering and frustrating

“After the tragedies in Newtown, Orlando, Sutherland Springs, Las Vegas, and Parkland, Congress has done nothing to stop our nation’s gun violence epidemic, despite overwhelming support for stronger gun laws.” –  Giffords Courage to Fight Gun Violence

Gun control throughout the USA remains a festering, frustrating issue. Fortunately, NJ, particularly through our governor and Sen. Loretta Weinberg, has taken action. Preview photo above is “March for Our Lives” with thousands protesting in Northern New Jersey.

However, effective gun control requires a federal response because no matter how strong our laws might be in NJ, weaker laws in other states dilute our efforts.  

The National Rifle Association (NRA) goes to great lengths to defend the right to bear arms. In the current cycle (2017-2018) nationally the NRA has spent so far $695,968 on contributions to candidates, $7,128,000 on lobbying, and $4,576,727 on outside spending. Interestingly during this period no NJ federal legislator has been the recipient of NRA funds.

 Nonetheless, during the period from 1989 through Feb. 1, 2018 in New Jersey, which has some of the strictest gun-control measures in the nation, gun control groups have actually slightly outspent gun-rights groups by $21,120 to $19,800. See below: 

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Below is how NJ candidates responded to the Vote Smart question: “Do you generally support gun-control legislation?” Most candidates respond YES, but in the case of numerous incumbent Republican candidates their high NRA vote ranking belies their answer. In the case of challengers who have no House voting record their YES response is documented by statements they have made. 

  • CD 2 Jeff Van Drew (D): YES, but he qualifies his answer saying, “I support many commonsense reforms to reduce gun violence,” lists those he supports, but does not mention those he opposes. He does say, he seeks to keep “American citizens’ Second Amendment rights intact.” Seth Grossman: (R): Yes, however, he says, “I believe that the gun control laws we already have are more than enough to protect our citizens.”
  • CD 3 Incumbent Tom MacArthur (R): YES however with his voting record he is rated 93% by the NRA. Andy Kim (D): YES.
  • CD 4 Incumbent Chris Smith (R): YES, however with his voting record he is rated 93% by the NRA. Josh Welle (D): YES.
  • CD 5 Josh Gottheimer (D): YES, rated 7% by NRA. John McCann (R): NO “Guns can save lives. I will always fight to defend Second Amendment rights from liberal politicians.”
  • CD 7 Incumbent Leonard Lance (R): NO, and rated 93% by the NRA. Tom Malinowski (D): YES.
  • CD 11 Mikie Sherrill (D): YES. Jay Webber (R): He did not respond to the question, however as a NJ Assemblyman he voted in favor of one gun control bill and opposed three other bills.

Morristown students

Despite the above data Giffords PAC has endorsed two Republicans, Leonard Lance and Chris Smith. It also endorsed Democrats Josh Gottheimer, Andy Kim, and Mikie Sherrill. Other major gun control groups, like Moms Demand Action, have announced their support of Tom Malinowski.

Gifford’s Law Center lists the numerous New Jersey state laws that benefit gun control, but points out that New Jersey does not: 

Although festering and frustrating, it is our success in taking control of the House and/or Senate that will move the needle nationally.

You can read other parts in this midterm issues series by clicking on the appropriate front-page slider or entering in the SEARCH box on the front page 2018 midterm issues   Prior issues are SALT (Part I), Healthcare (Part II), Climate Change (Part III), The Trump Factor (Part IV), Immigration (Part V), and “Follow the Money” Part VI.

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