TRENTON —  Within hours after Nikolas Cruz opened fire inside a Florida high school, killing 17, many New Jersey Democrats were calling for more gun laws.

Gov. Phil Murphy in a message on Twitter said “common sense gun safety legislation” needs to be passed by Congress and the state Legislature. The new governor has already said he would roll back Christie administration regulations that were designed to make it easier to carry handguns.

Earlier in the week, Murphy criticized former Gov. Chris Christie over the regulations.

"Chris Christie put standing with the gun lobby before standing with the majority of New Jerseyans who support sensible gun safety reforms. I will be an entirely different type of governor. New Jersey can, and must, be a national role model in changing this critical debate," he said.

Christie in a tweet called the shooting "horrific" and sent thoughts from himself and wife Mary Pat to those who were lost and injured in Wednesday's shooting.

Many Democrats expressed their condolences — but eschewed thoughts and prayers.

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said on Twitter “our nation must act” and said thoughts and prayers were not enough. U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J. 6th District, said "you can’t offer condolences if you don’t support common sense measures to reduce gun violence."

U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J. 12th District, said Republicans should "pray for forgiveness for not only their complacency and dereliction of duty, but in contrition for the men, women and children we continue to lay to rest because of senseless gun violence and the cowardly inaction from Congress.”

U.S. Rep. Donald Payne Jr., D-N.J. 10th District, noted that earlier on Wednesday, the NRA had deleted a tweet showing guns lying on a heart-shaped box of chocolates.

"After the #schoolshooting in Parkland, the NRA deleted their retweet. Now, radio silence. @HouseGOP needs to stop worshiping at the altar of the gun lobby and join me to pass reasonable gun laws. The #MomentToScreamAndProtest to #EndGunViolence is here," he wrote.

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., took a less strident tone and tweeted that he was "heartbroken," sent prayers to the victims and thanked first responders for their bravery.

"This cannot keep happening. We must act.This cannot keep happening. We must act," New Jersey's senior senator wrote.

U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross, D-1st District, simply offered support for bringing gun safety measures up for a vote.

"America’s students should not have to pray that they will make it through the day alive. America must confront this crisis," U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J. 5th District, said on Twitter.

On the GOP side, U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J. 3rd District, called for an "open and honest conversation to look for real solutions about how to prevent these mass shootings." Rep. Leonard Lance sent prayers while U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J. 4th District, said “our hearts and prayers go out to the victims, survivors and family members.”

Reps. Frank LoBiondo, Albio Sires  and Rodney Frelinghuysen had not commented on the shooting.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ