Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Senator, Crowd in Passionate Gun Debate

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Senator, Crowd in Passionate Gun Debate

Article excerpt

TEANECK -- Gun rights advocates peppered state Sen. Loretta Weinberg on Sunday with questions over a much-debated package of bills that they argue would infringe on their Second Amendment rights and that supporters say would close loopholes in current gun laws.

The hourlong forum at the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County became heated at times as Weinberg, D-Teaneck, spelled out why she believes gun ownership ought to be more heavily regulated in New Jersey.

The 22 bills are not designed to "take people's guns away," Weinberg said to the more than 75 people packed into the society's meeting room. "If you decide under your Second Amendment right to buy, purchase and keep a gun, you will do it safely and carefully."

New Jersey's existing gun laws are considered some of the strictest in the country, but Weinberg said the legislation is designed to "close some loopholes."

Among other things, the bills call for:

* Limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds.

* Banning armor-piercing and .50-caliber bullets.

* Requiring background checks for private gun sales.

* Allowing a patient's firearms to be seized if a mental health professional determines that the patient poses a threat.

* Prohibiting people on the federal terrorist watch list from buying firearms.

* Prohibiting Internet or mail-order ammunition sales.

Much of the legislation was introduced following the December shooting deaths of 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. Despite opposition from gun rights advocates, the package passed the Assembly last month and is scheduled to be heard in the Senate in the last two weeks of April, said Weinberg, the Senate majority leader.

Her audience Sunday was a mix of gun-rights advocates, gun- control supporters and members of the Ethical Culture Society, one of the more progressive organizations in North Jersey.

Although the meeting grew tense at times, Joseph Chuman, the society's leader, kept the discussion orderly and civil.

When advocates on both sides of the issue brought up the views of Adolf Hitler on gun regulation, Chuman said with a touch of disgust: "Let's leave Hitler out of the debate," to a round of applause. …

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