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Overflow Crowd Packs NJ Gun Control Hearing; 20 Bills Pass

Well over 100 people have turned out today to testify for and against two dozen gun violence prevention bills at the State House in Trenton.

FULL COVERAGE: Gun Control Debate

Overflow croad at Law and Public Safety Committee hear on 24 gun measures
Overflow croad at Law and Public Safety Committee hear on 24 gun measures (Kevin McArdle, Townsquare Media NJ)

Inside, the crowd is so large an overflow room had to be set up to accommodate everyone. Outside, about 50 gun rights advocates are holding a mini-rally. The mood in the committee room is raucous and those opposed to the bills have been warned they’ll be ushered out if there are outbursts.

The 24 bills are aimed at reforming weapons and ammunition sales, improving mental health services, enhancing gun safety, combating illegal gun trafficking and finding ways to boost school security. Panel members and the gallery knew they were in for a very long day when the first bill to be heard met with resistance. The measure would ban anyone on the FBI’s terrorist watch list from buying a gun.

Tempers were flaring as the hearing opened up because Republican members of the panel think ramming through over twenty bills in one day is not only unheard of, it irresponsible.

“For us to try to cut through all of these important issues here today and try to come up with responsible public policy is just not really how we do things,” says GOP Assemblyman Sean Kean. “I just believe that these important issues deserve to be fully vetted and should not be rushed through.”

Assemblyman Charles Mainor, chairman of the Law and Public Safety Committee says, “Whether it’s the streets of our New Jersey communities, a movie theater in Colorado or an elementary school in Connecticut, enough is enough is enough. No more talk. It’s time for action. The Assembly will show real leadership and do everything it can to better protect New Jersey residents by advancing a common sense plan to combat this scourge of gun violence that has touched us all so deeply.”

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