Peace group calls for “common sense” steps to stem gun violence

TRENTON – After the shooting last week at an Old Bridge, Middlesex County, supermarket that took the lives of three people, the group Ceasefire New Jersey called on citizens and lawmakers both on the state and federal level to support “common sense” steps to reduce gun violence.

Among the steps the federal government could take, according to Nicola Bocour, project director of Coalition for Peace Action, CNJ’s umbrella group, include:

*reinstating the federal assault weapons ban which had succumbed to a sunset provision in 2004;

*closing the so-called “gun show loophole,” which allows purchasers to obtain guns mostly before a full background check is conducted;

*improving regulation of online ammunition sales.

“Senseless rampage of gun violence has taken too many lives,” said the Rev. Robert Moore, the coalition’s executive director, during a press conference at the Statehouse Annex.

He said more than 80 people die each day from gun violence.

“This cannot be tolerated,” he said. “Many of these deaths could be prevented.”

Bocour said that while New Jersey has the second strongest gun laws in the nation, including a 1991 state law banning the purchase of assault weapons,  many states don’t have laws that are as strict. Thus the trafficking of guns across state lines allows the violence to take place virtually anywhere, including the Pathmark shooting, advocates said.  

Officials said since the shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in 2011, 63 more mass shootings have taken place, including a shooting at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater and a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.

Katherine Best of Sen. Bob Menendez’ office also called for full background checks with no loopholes.

“This is a conversation we need to have now, not later,” she said.

Irene Etkin, who read a statement from U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, (D-N.J.), said the shooting demonstrates the need for better mental health care, education and stronger gun control laws.

"I’m excited as hell about CD 5. We have encouraged Congressman [Steve] Israel to get involved in CD 5."
—Democratic State Party Chairman John Currie