By David Cruz
As he greeted police at the swearing in of a new class today Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop was talking about his new effort to put the gun control onus on gun manufacturers by requiring those looking to sell firearms to the city’s police department to answer questions on what he calls a “social responsibility component.”
“What we’re trying to look at is safety of weapons, so a police officers safety is paramount, price obviously is important, and how they answer a social responsibility component. We’ve seen them in action in Washington, inaction in Trenton and what we think is that municipalities, urban areas like Jersey City and larger cities can shape the dialogue in a meaningful way,” said Fulop.
Some of the questions ask manufacturers if they contribute to gun control efforts, or if they promise to keep their gun brands out of violent movies and video games.
“I don’t see any merit in what he’s trying to do here,” said Fulop.
Frank Caso has been selling guns to cops in Jersey City for over four decades. He says this is just another effort to blame manufacturers for crimes committed with guns. He thinks the plan will, if you’ll pardon the expression, backfire on the city.
“Let’s say they bought a bunch of new Fords, are they gonna call up Ford and ask them a bunch of questions about how this cars gonna be safe enough to drive and you guarantee that this car’s not gonna hit someone on the street or have an accident in a period of five years that they keep the car or whatever time they’re gonna use it? I don’t think they’re not gonna do that, You know what Ford’s gonna say? We won’t sell them to you. They don’t need Jersey City for that,” said Caso.
The mayor says manufacturers are free to sell their guns however they wish, but if they want to sell to Jersey City – a bid that could be tens of thousands of dollars – they’re going to have to answer the questions.
“So, like everything else, we’ll have a committee together and we’ll weigh it, we’ll rank it and whoever is the best across the board is the one who will get the opportunity,” said Fulop.
Nicola Bocour of CeasefireNJ says she supports the mayor’s efforts. She says the conversation needs to be less about gun controls and more about gun responsibility.
“What’s missing a lot of the time is just a real conversation about practical ways to integrate responsibility into the way we deal with guns every single day,” said Bocour.
Gun manufacturers say they’re opposed to any kind of local litmus test. Lawrence Keane, is a vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, an industry trade association. He says it’s not impossible to think that they could sue over this.
“We think it’s wrong and inappropriate to use politics as a criteria for selecting the best firearm that meets the needs of law enforcement officers,” said Keane.
The mayor insists this effort is more than just symbolism. He says that is just ten of the country’s largest cities followed suit, they could have a major impact on how guns are marketed in this country.