By Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron
“The truth is, what happened in Newtown can happen in any town. I am so grateful that New Jersey leaders understand this. In an instant, any mother in America could be in my shoes,” said Nelba Marquez-Green, whose daughter Ana was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December.
Five parents of four Newtown shooting victims came to Trenton today to urge passage of a 10-round limit on bullets in an ammunition magazine.
The Newtown shooter used 30-round magazines.
“We have learned that in the time it took him to reload in one of the classrooms, 11 children were able to escape. That was Dylan’s classroom. He was not able to escape,” Nicole Hockley said. “So I’m one of those parents who asks myself every day, every minute, if those magazines had held 10 rounds instead of 30, forcing the shooter to reload many more times, would my son be alive today?”
They were here today because a Senate committee was hearing a package of gun measures sponsored by Senate Democratic leaders.
Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald has criticized that package because it doesn’t include a magazine restriction.
New Jersey currently allows just 15 rounds per magazine.
Greenwald and the numbers two and three Democrats in the Senate want to lower that to 10 and stood with the Newtown parents this morning.
“The difference between 15 and 10 could be your child. It was their child,” Greenwald said.
The NRA sees it differently.
“We’re in the very few minority of states that already has a magazine capacity limit of 15. Now they want to arbitrarily move it to 10, or at least there’s discussion of that,” State Liaison for the National Rifle Association Darin Goens said. “We’re opposed to that and we’re opposed to that for a simple reason. It only affects the law-abiding citizens. Someone who goes to commit a violent act, a violent crime is gonna ignore the magazine capacity limit.”
The Senate package requires background checks for private gun sales, photo ID for all background checks and many other measures.
It’s considered more moderate than a similar Assembly package.
“You’re never gonna make both sides happy. But the idea was to do something that was meaningful in a state that has the second toughest gun laws in the nation,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney.
The room was packed with gun rights advocates who applauded their speakers.
The Newtown parents had three private meetings with members of the governor’s staff, Senate President Sweeney and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono. A compromise on the magazine issue seems imminent.