New Jersey State Senator Nia Gill wore her young grandson’s watch, festooned with cartoon characters, during Monday’s press conference in Trenton to announce a bill to limit the size of an ammunition magazine to 10, down from 15. As parents of children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in December of 2012 looked on, Senator Gill mentioned the watch as she spoke of the motivation for the bill and the bond she shares with parents who have lost children to gun violence.
State leadership was joined in Trenton by gun violence prevention advocates, including Montclair representation from groups like Bluewave NJ, Ceasefire NJ, and the NJ Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Also present were directors of The Sandy Hook Promise, Newtown, CT parents who lost children in the Sandy Hook 2012 tragedy.
Senator Gill (D-Essex/Passaic), together with Senator Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen), sponsored this bill (S2475), which passed the NJ Assembly last year, thanks in part to Montclair’s own Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver, who was Assembly Speaker at the time, and the Assembly’s Majority Leader Louis Greenwald. The bill was not put up for a vote by the NJ Senate last year. This year, and thanks in part to persuasion from Senators Gill and Weinberg, Senate President Sweeney has changed his mind and is “proud” to put this bill up for a vote. Monday’s joint press conference made it clear that this time around, both the State’s Assembly and Senate are confident it will pass both legislative bodies.
At the press conference, Senator Gill, who represents Clifton, East Orange, Montclair, and Orange in the State Senate, spoke of refusing to “stand idly by” when it comes to gun safety. “High–capacity magazines, which have been used to carry out rapid-fire assaults throughout the country, have no place in the hands of civilians,” said Senator Gill (D-Essex/Passaic). Senator Gill elaborates:
“Last year, I committed to reducing the allowable magazine capacity, and after meeting with the families from Newtown, and hearing their heart-wrenching stories, I vowed to continue to fight to pass this measure in the Legislature. If we can save the life of one person in New Jersey by getting large capacity magazines off our streets, then it is our obligation to do so. We knew that it would take hard work but we forged ahead. This legislation will better protect our children and our communities, and it will ensure that we continue to have some of the toughest gun-control laws in the country.”
Marcia Marley, president of BluewaveNJ and a Montclair resident, was present at the press conference. She acknowledges that this legislation is just one step forward in ending gun violence, albeit an important one. She emphasizes, “Reducing the [magazine] limit will save lives. In case after case, those crucial seconds during reloading have provided the opportunity for people to either escape or stop the shooter.” Ms. Marley urged all of New Jersey’s legislators to vote YES on the bill, and she emphasized that gun safety and gun violence prevention should not be a partisan issue.
Montclair resident, and project director of CeasefireNJ, Nicola Bocour stated, “We know that the number of rounds — and the seconds it takes to reload — matter. Once our legislators pass this common sense bill in the Assembly and Senate, the Governor must support it to show the people of New Jersey that their safety, and the safety of their children, also matter.”
When the U.S. Congress passed a federal assault-weapons ban in 1994, it included a restriction of magazine capacity to 10 rounds. The law was allowed to expire in 2004. Currently, six states, and the District of Columbia restrict magazine capacity, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.