Murphy on Florida shooting: Words are not enough

Gov. Phil Murphy, a dad of four, said he was “staggered” by Wednesday’s shooting that left 17 dead at a high school in Parkland, Florida. “It just rips your heart out,” he said. “You just look at that and it just tears you to shreds.”

Murphy offered condolences to the grieving families. On Wednesday, he told reporters at a news conference in Trenton that he’ll order flags to be flown at half staff in New Jersey. But the governor also noted, the real issue is guns.

“Yes, words of sorrow, our thoughts and prayers are with the families and the victims and the survivors — who are probably going to be traumatized for the rest of their lives. Those words matter. Symbols matter … but the fact of the matter is we need gun safety laws. Period. In addition to those important words,” he said. “The words are not enough. The expressions of sympathy are not enough. We must act.”

Murphy urged action, saying that while New Jersey’s gun control laws are strict, 80 percent of gun crimes in New Jersey are committed by weapons from other states.

“And I particularly call out the lobbies — the gun lobby that separates the will of the people from the actions in Congress. And one in particular — if you look at any polling related to comprehensive background checks, it has overwhelming support on all sides of all aisles, in the upper 80s in this country, and yet we can’t take more action on that front.”

Murphy suggested states in this region that favor tougher gun laws band together and create a regional coalition, similar to RGGI, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, in which nine states agree to a cap and trade emissions protocol.