Murphy vows to vigorously defend gun laws

BY Briana Vannozzi, Senior Correspondent |

In a crowd filled with women, in a group made for moms, it wasn’t difficult to spot Eliot Colon among the supporters for gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy’s endorsement. He’s a member of Moms Demand Action — a grassroots gun safety organization that started the day after Sandy Hook. Colon was shot in the neck 22 years ago, by his brother, who suffered from mental illness.

“I know what happened to me, would not have happened to me if those rules were in place now,” he said. “It takes a lot for that gun registration to be taken away even if you’re seeing a doctor for mental illness.”

That’s why the group is wholeheartedly throwing support to the Democratic front-runner. Murphy’s campaign is pledging to sign each of the gun measures Christie vetoed during his tenure.

“Gov. Christie vetoed bills with near universal support from New Jerseyans, from both sides of the aisle and even from gun owners. These bipartisan measures would have kept guns out of the hands of gang members and individuals convicted of making terrorist threats, restricted the size of gun magazines, prohibited the sale of .50 caliber rifles — a ban Gov. Christie himself proposed after Sandy Hook,” Murphy said to the crowd.

You get the picture. All the while, he says Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno stood idly by and has yet to take a strong stance on the measures. New Jersey already has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, but Murphy says he’ll go one step further requiring smart guns, universal background checks and restrictions for the mentally ill.

“This is vital for a governor to take this up right now, if for no other reason than conceal carry reciprocity is a reality that could be happening very soon,” said Mom’s Demand Action New Jersey Chapter Lead, Brett Sabo.

Roughly 80 percent of the guns used in New Jersey’s crimes originate from outside the state. Murphy is also floating the idea of taxing gun sales on certain firearms, though the campaign said those details are still in discussion. In a statement, Guadagno campaign spokesperson Ricky Diaz called any accusations, “The latest example of Phil Murphy trying to distract voters from his planned and promised $1.3 billion tax increase.”

Murphy’s next endorsement is slated for Monday with former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal. While this last event may not have quite the same star power, it’s as important as any in a state where gun safety issues run high in priority for voters.