Council members in the northwestern New Jersey borough of Sussex have unanimously approved a resolution declaring the community a “Second Amendment/lawful gun owner municipality,” and are pushing back against any new gun control laws signed by Governor Phil Murphy.
As NJ.com reports, Sussex is now the second community in the state to pass a resolution in support of gun owners. West Milford, New Jersey freeholders were the first in the state to do so a couple of weeks ago, and more may follow suit in the coming weeks.
Sussex Borough voted on the pro-gun resolution at the behest of State Assemblyman Parker Space, R-24th District.
Space, who voted against the red flag law, said he sees the resolutions as a way to make a statement against the “gun-grabbers in Trenton.”
“Obviously, a resolution doesn’t supersede state law. It’s saying, enough is enough. We’re going to defend the Second Amendment,” Space said.
Space has asked the freeholder boards in Sussex and Warren counties to consider resolutions in opposition to gun control, and said he anticipates additional municipalities also taking a stand.
The movement is just starting to take shape in New Jersey, and as we’ve seen in other states around the country, the specific language adopted is likely to change based on local concerns and politics.
Unlike West Milford, the council in Sussex opted not to characterize the borough as a “sanctuary” for law-abiding gun owners, though regardless of the wording neither resolution overrides state and federal laws regulating weapons and ammunition.
However, Sussex Borough’s resolution is identical to West Milford in one key way, in asserting that the municipality “opposes gun control, ‘gun safety’ legislation, or ‘red flag laws,’ state, federal or local.”
New Jersey’s red flag law, formally known as the Extreme Risk Protective Order Act of 2018, took effect in September. Similar laws exist in at least 17 other states.
It’s true that the resolutions approved by the local politicians don’t have the force of law, but that isn’t stopping gun control groups from attacking the show of support for the Second Amendment.
Christian Heyne, vice president of policy at Brady — formerly the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence — criticized the Sussex Borough resolution and defended red flag laws as “a tool used by law enforcement to ensure that individuals who are most at risk to hurt themselves are not able to.”
“When over three out of five gun deaths in this country are death by suicide, ‘opposing’ this tested tool that has proven itself effective and life saving is irresponsible and just flat out wrong,” Heyne said via email
The problem for Heyne is that “red flag” laws haven’t been proven to be successful at preventing suicide at all. In fact, the two states that have had “red flag” laws on the books for the longest period of time, Connecticut and Indiana, have both seen their suicide rates increase after the laws have gone into effect. As I pointed out a few days ago:
Everytown for Gun Safety, for instance, says that since Connecticut instituted its red flag law in 1999, firearm-related suicides have declined by almost 14%. That sounds great until you realize that the state’s overall suicide rate has increased by nearly 20% during the same time period, a fact that Everytown didn’t bother to include in their report for some reason. They may be interested in reducing suicide by firearm, but most everyone else is interested in reducing suicide, no matter the means…
As it turns out, Indiana has not been successful at reducing the number of suicides, even with a red flag law in place. Suicides in the state have actually increased by more than 30% since 1999, according to the CDC. Fewer people may be using a firearm to commit suicide, but far more people are killing themselves using other methods, and red flag laws don’t do anything to prevent non-firearm related suicides.
Leaving aside the constitutional concerns for a moment, the biggest flaw with “red flag” legislation is that it’s a gun control measure masquerading as a mental health proposal. Even if a judge declares someone to be a danger to themselves or others, under a red flag law, the only thing that happens is that they lose their right to own a firearm. There’s no mental health treatment, and in many cases, there’s not even an opportunity for doctors to examine the individual. They lose the right to own a firearm, but they keep their knives, pills, belts, car keys, and gasoline.
If the goal is saving lives, red flag laws don’t make sense. If the goal is banning guns, on the other hand, red flag laws are a perfect way to disarm individuals without them having to commit a crime or be accused of committing one. It’s good to see Sussex, New Jersey take a stand in opposition to this and other gun control laws, and I hope other communities across the Garden State soon follow suit.