Gun control continues to be a hot button issue in New Jersey. About 1,000 gun-rights activists gathered outside the Statehouse earlier this month to protest further restrictions on firearms. But last week, the state Assembly approved 22 bills intended to curb gun violence despite protests from Republicans, who said Democrats put the legislation, some of it flawed, on too fast a track. One person speaking out against stricter guns laws is Frank Fiamingo, president of the New Jersey Second Amendment Society. He told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that this latest round of legislation will do nothing to reduce crime, but will instead further restrict law abiding individuals.
As a grandfather of two girls who are the same age as the children killed in the Newtown massacre, Fiamingo said the tragedy affected him emotionally but did not change his position on gun rights.
“As much as I have an emotional reaction to something like that happening, I also can analyze what really took place,” said Fiamingo. “We have an individual who was obviously out of touch with reality who killed his own mother and then proceeded to go to that school and slaughter children. This is not someone who was a law abiding, legal gun owner. This is somebody that was mentally imbalanced and someone should have caught that and somebody should have done something about it.”
The weapon used by the Newtown killer was an AR-15, which was legally owned by the killer’s mother. According to Fiamingo, the real issue, as evidenced in the Newton case, is not the weapon used, but the improper storage of guns.
He said, “I would be in favor of legislation that might increase penalties for not properly storing your firearms. That certainly would make sense.”
Additionally, Fiamingo opposes restrictions on ammunition, saying that limiting the magazine size would have little or no affect on criminals. “But restricting me or the people in my organization from having 15 round magazines really doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.”
When it comes to online gun sales, Fiamingo said Internet sales already require proof of ID and a copy of a firearms identification card. Some gun control advocates have been pushing for background checks at gun shows, but Fiamingo argued that someone who’s a criminal is not likely to go to a gun show.
He said that the existing ban on convicted felons from owning firearms works as well as any law can in restricting access to guns by criminals.
“If you’re a convicted felon or you’ve been adjudicated mentally incompetent you cannot legally possess a firearm in the state of New Jersey,” said Fiamingo.
Asked what, if any, gun control law he would support, Fiamingo said he would support “any gun control that makes a clear distinction between the law abiding individual and the criminal.”
In the meantime, Fiamingo said he will continue to meet with legislators to get them to understand his organization’s point of view.
“Hopefully, we can work with them and give them some ideas about, for instance, increasing the penalties for not properly securing firearms and other ideas that we have and lead away from punishing law abiding citizens.”