Horizon executive named senior advisor to the governor on firearms

Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, a gunshot victim, was on hand to hear Gov. Phil Murphy talk about his latest step to tighten New Jersey’s gun laws.

Murphy endorsed six bills awaiting action in the state Senate.

He said Senate president Steve Sweeney told him recently he’s on board and the state is claiming its place as a gun control leader.

“I know like many of you I’ve had enough of us versus them talk, on guns. New Jersey is going to prove that we can move as one to make our entire state safer. And to prove that smart comprehensive gun safety laws do much more to improve our communities and keep them free of gun violence than the guns on every street corner thinking of the gun lobby,” said Murphy.

Murphy then announced he is naming Bill Castner to be senior advisor to the governor on firearms.

Castner has deep experience in the state, currently at Horizon Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

He’ll stay a consultant there, but come over full-time to the governor’s office.

“We need an unprecedented systematic attack  on gun violence in my estimation. The gun industry takes aggressive steps to protect guns and this is about with the governor’s support now taking steps to protect people,” said Castner.

Gabby Giffords’ husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly pledged legal support from the Giffords Law Center.

“This is a complicated issue, its not one reason why we have 20 to 25 times the death rate from gun violence than any other industrialized nation. It’s for a lot of different reasons,” said Kelly.

Giffords herself urged supporters to fight on.

“Stopping gun violence takes courage. The courage to do what’s right, the courage for new ideas. I’ve seen great courage when my life’s on the line. Now is the time to come together, to be responsible. Democrats, Republicans, everyone — we must never stop fighting. Fight, fight, fight,” said Giffords.

The father of a Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim was on hand.

“This is a social movement — it’s coming from the ground up, it’s not coming from the top down,” said Mark Barden, founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise.

Although New Jersey has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, guns still make their way into the state.

Castner contends, “It’s not just laws alone. We need to take this outside the State House, potentially to court houses. We have to use the state’s purchase power. The number one purchaser of firearms is us – it’s taxpayers. So New Jersey ought to examine how to use that purchasing power to effectuate positive  market behavior.”

When President Donald Trump spoke at the NRA convention last Friday, they said he was playing to his base. When Murphy takes a step toward more gun control, he, too, is playing to his base — the anti-gun movement.