Menendez uses AR-15 demonstration to push for stricter gun laws

BY Michael Aron, Chief Political Correspondent |

Sen. Bob Menendez invited the media to the Essex County Firearms Training Center Monday morning to hear what an AR-15 sounds like when fired indoors, for example, in a school. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was on his mind.

“Imagine being a student in that school or any school in America. Someone with an AR-15 and a whole series of clips is walking down a hallway and shooting away, the absolute terror that must exist, so I thought this week we were going to have votes. That’s what Sen. McConnell led us to believe. Now, I hear we’re going to have a banking bill. Banking bill can wait. Lives can’t,” said Menendez.

Menendez has focused on the gun issue since the shooting in Parkland, Florida last month. He gave a rousing speech on gun safety at the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce dinner in Washington last week.

“Arming our teachers won’t stop Orlando, Las Vegas, or Texas. Only we can do that by passing common sense, smarter gun safety laws,” said Menendez.

Monday morning, he talked about bringing back the federal ban on assault weapons like the AR-15, enacting universal background checks, limiting high capacity magazines and blocking concealed carry interstate reciprocity that the NRA is lobbying for.

“You can have the Second Amendment, but no privilege or right under the Constitution is unlimited. You can’t go under your First Amendment rights into a movie theater and get your kicks out by saying ‘fire, fire’ and have everybody rush out. You can’t claim your First Amendment rights for that. You can have a Second Amendment right, but you don’t have a Second Amendment right to an AR-15,” said Menendez.

Essex County officials said they confiscated 20 AR-15 style weapons in Newark last year, and 47 assault weapons, altogether. They listened as Menendez said 1 in 4 police officers who were shot last year nationwide, were shot with AR-15s.

“There is no place, as far we’re concerned, for an AR-15 anywhere, on the streets of Essex County, New Jersey or the USA. The weapon is designed for war, a weapon is designed to kill in a war zone, and a war zone only. That’s where it should be kept,” said Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura.

It’s been almost 15 years since federal law banned assault weapons like these.