The 1981 assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan seems modest, almost, by comparison to the chaos of today’s regularly-occurring mass shootings. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has been fighting for stricter gun laws ever since, lobbying from statehouses to Congress and endorsing political candidates.
“Gun violence is a public health crisis. It erodes the foundation of our most fragile communities, the communities that need our support and assistance the most,” said Brady Campaign Chair Kevin Quinn. “From the day Phil Murphy declared his candidacy for governor, he has been advocating for common sense gun reforms that will make this a safer New Jersey, a better New Jersey.”
“The awful tragedy in Las Vegas is just now a new reminder, front page, but the reality is the reminders come with regularity as Kevin said and we can’t forget in a community like Trenton or in many other communities in this state, it’s the daily drumbeat,” added Murphy.
Coming just a week after the mass shooting in Las Vegas, there was a question of whether the Murphy campaign was trying to capitalize politically on a national tragedy. Monday morning’s news conference was held in the state Democratic Party Headquarters, a result of inclement weather. Murphy addressed it before he was questioned.
“I’m incredibly humbled to be here today, and it’s also worth noting this was scheduled before the tragedy that happened in Las Vegas. We’ve been looking at this date for some number of weeks, so we’re not trying to ‘capitalize’ on anything,” he stressed.
Still, comments like these from the Brady Campaign chairman could come across as pretty partisan.
“Unlike our current governor, Chris Christie, and his lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno, Phil has made gun violence prevention a core policy issue. And we have been reminded with terrible force this past week why this issue is so important to all Americans,” said Quinn.
Asked at her own campaign event Monday whether Murphy’s campaign was politicizing the gun violence issue in the aftermath of the Las Vegas shootings, Republican gubernatorial candidate Kim Guadagno said, “Of course it is, not a surprise.”
Murphy, while saying he did not want to be “overly political today,” added, “but literally last week my opponent said now is not the time, and then she said she was satisfied that we had the right laws on the books, and then I think, as I recall, backed off on the bump stocks when the NRA said it was OK to support that legislation.”
Guns have not ranked high on the list of issues with New Jersey voters. That was before Las Vegas, so to the extent that voters might be thinking about them more nowadays, this event’s timing – coincidental or not – served to make the point that when it comes to gun regulations in New Jersey, he wants more, rather than less.