POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Murphy calls for more action on guns in the wake of Pittsburgh shooting

BY Michael Aron, Chief Political Correspondent |

Two days after an anti-Semitic extremist killed 11 people in a synagogue and wounded six, Gov. Phil Murphy responded by calling for another round of gun reforms.

In June, he signed a 6-bill package tightening New Jersey’s already strict gun laws. Monday, he called for gun control 2.0.

“For all these big, awful events, like the slaughter on Saturday, there’s a daily drum beat of gun violence that we can never ignore,” he said.

Murphy called for a crackdown on gun trafficking; requiring a photo ID to purchase ammunition and sharing the purchase data with the State Police; speeding the introduction of smart gun technology; and targeting $15 million to certain high gun incident cities.

Murphy and those he stood with rejected President Donald Trump’s suggestion that an armed guard at the synagogue might have prevented some of the carnage.

“We cannot let President Trump and the NRA distract us from the fact and logic with their nonsense that more guns is the answer. Time and again they are proven wrong. We cannot wait for Congress to come to its senses and pass common sense gun safety laws. We must act, and we must act now,” Murphy said.

At an unrelated event on the 6th anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, Sen. Cory Booker spoke about the hatred he said is consuming the country.

“When hate is on the rise in the United States of America, a nation that has stood against hatred, stood against violence, stood against bigotry, we all have a responsibility to confront and address this. It’s not enough to say, ‘I’m not a racist.’ We must be anti-racist. It’s not enough to say, ‘I’m not anti-Semitic.’ We must be anti-anti-Semitism,” Booker said.

The Sandy event was in Union Beach, a small town that got hit hard.

“While there are 330 finished homes here, 56 in Union Beach alone remain unfinished. That’s 56 families still waiting to write the end of their Sandy story. That’s 56 too many,” Murphy said.

A Sandy victim activist recalled the six-year fight

“We fought FEMA and fought the insurance companies. We fought the RREM program, we fought crooked contractors, predatory banks trying to take our homes away through foreclosure, ” said Doug Quinn, a member of the New Jersey Organizing Project and a Sandy victim himself.

Murphy said statewide 1,200 families affected by Sandy are still not back in their homes. He announced the creation a $50 million zero-interest loan fund to help those families using unspent federal Sandy dollars. He is putting a freeze on clawbacks, which are attempts by the federal government to recoup some of the money it awarded victims.

The two U.S. senators and Congressman Frank Pallone joined Murphy at the event. With Bob Menendez facing a tough re-election fight next week, there were especially kind words tossed at him.

“Sen. Menendez has been our one-man 911 fund. Every time there was a problem we called him every single time. He’s come through for us — for Sandy victims and the state of New Jersey — so I want to thank you for being a light in the darkness for us,” Quinn said.

“How we fight back against the storms, whether they’re man-made or God-sent. And I’m telling you right now, if a storm is coming and I’m going to be manning the barricade, there’s one guy I want with me, and that’s Bob Menendez,” Booker said.

At his gun news conference, Murphy was asked whether he thinks the gun issue will have much impact on next week’s midterm elections. His answer? I hope so.