NJ gun rights groups not behind idea for armed protest in Trenton
The FBI continues to investigate anonymous online calls to hold armed protests in Trenton and other state capitals across the nation, as well as at the U.S. Capital, leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, groups and organizations in New Jersey that support expanding the rights of gun owners are rejecting such calls.
Dave Rosenthal, the vice president of the Coalition of New Jersey Firearm Owners, said his organization is law abiding and has no part in this.
“The Coalition of New Jersey Firearm Owners has no knowledge of any group or entity that is attempting to conduct an illegal march on Trenton armed,” he said. “We are a group that believes in law and order and the Constitutional right of carrying firearms, but to do so only legally.”
He said it doesn’t make sense for anyone to call for an armed protest in Trenton because only about 1,500 gun carry permits has been issued in the state — “and most of them are judges, prosecutors, the politically connected and retired police officers.”
He noted if a police officer or state trooper sees someone carrying a firearm in public “and asks for their appropriate carry permit and you’re not able to produce it, you’ll be arrested."
Alexander Roubian, the president New Jersey Second Amendment Society, said his group does not support the idea of an armed protest in Trenton, and he believes the suggestion that this kind of event could take place is “the left’s and Democrats' shallow and desperate attempt to demonize gun owners by claiming we are paranoid people that are going to storm the castle armed."
He said he believes there is no plan to hold this kind of armed rally whatsoever.
The FBI warned this week that armed protests were being planned for all state capitols following the siege by Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol last week in which they beat police officers, fatally injuring one, and then ransacked offices, broke windows and smeared feces in the building.
It was unclear who was organizing the supposed protests but websites and figures related to pro-Trump Q-Anon conspiracy theories have been involved in promoting such demonstrations.
The event at Washington on Wednesday had been stoked in part by the president who continues to make baseless, disputed claims that the election was stolen from him. Some participants in the attack threatened to harm Democratic lawmakers as well as Vice President Mike Pence, who declined to interfere with Congress' certification of Biden's Electoral College victory.
Rosenthal also said an armed protest would “make all gun owners guilty by association" and likely lead to the enactment of even stricter gun control laws in New Jersey.
“We have participated in the past in other activities at the state capital that were given permits to assemble, and of course we did so under the watchful eyes of the New Jersey State Police.”
Rosenthal said his organization supports law and order 100% and has a great reputation with the State Police. He said members have been advised to not participate in any inflammatory or illegal protest this weekend or beyond.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com