A candid chat with NJ GOP Congressional candidate Philip Rizzo

If the name Philip Rizzo rings a bell, that’s because in the last gubernatorial race, Rizzo faced off in the primaries with other GOP members; Jack Ciattarelli, Brian D. Levine, and Hirsh V. Singh. Ciattarelli ended up snagging the nomination to run against Governor Phil Murphy, however, Rizzo ran one heck of a campaign considering he entered the race as late as he did. Rizzo’s popularity could be noted in the massive amount of funds he raised in just four months.  According to Rizzo, his campaign raised $650,000.00 in that timeframe. Philip Rizzo is on the campaign trail again, and this time he’s eyeing the GOP nomination for Congressman in NJ’s 7th legislative district.

The New Jersey Congressional Primaries are scheduled to be held on June 7, 2022. Rizzo’s competition for the GOP nomination is former NJ Assemblyman and Senator Thomas Kean Jr. Kean had the nomination for the 2020 House election, however lost the race to incumbent Democrat Tom Malinowski by 1.2% of the votes. Whoever takes the GOP nomination, in my opinion, will have a solid shot at taking down Malinowski in the general election.

During Rizzo’s run for Governor of New Jersey in 2021, I had a couple of chances to chat with him, and was able to get his stance on many things Second Amendment. One interview is chronicled over at AmmoLand News and offers insight on Rizzo’s stance on many of the hot topics. I also did coverage of the NJ GOP debate question on concealed carry in New Jersey here at Bearing Arms, and recorded Rizzo’s response. Rizzo was kind enough to give me some time the other day and we played some catchup.

Most of the heavy lifting on Rizzo was already just done (I urge readers to check out the hyperlinked articles mentioned above), so our chat was more of a conversation about things going on federally, as his general positions are well recorded. Previously I noted:

I don’t personally know Phil Rizzo. I had the opportunity to chat with him earlier in the year the day after he announced he was throwing his hat in the race. Our off-the-record conversation was enough for me to want to follow up with him. After talking with him again today, I feel he is a Second Amendment friendly. One of the benefits of Rizzo running is that [he] is not a politician. But since he does not have any type of policy or voting record, there is no way to confirm what he has to say. If New Jersey gun owners are looking for some sort of a rating on firearms, Rizzo would get an A? in my book.  Rizzo self-identified as a “Constitutionalist” in our chat. He certainly is talking the talk when it comes to Second Amendment freedoms and was willing to be put on record.

The first thing I did was congratulate Rizzo on his successful campaign. While it might seem odd to congratulate someone that did not even make it into the primary, Rizzo did make plenty of waves during his short run. We talked a bit about the upcoming primary, him facing off against Kean, and he reiterated to me that the absentee mail in ballots are already out.

My first question was about our challenges on a federal level. Some of the questions and answers have been slightly altered for clarity, not content. The recording of our conversation will be in an embed at the end of this article and I suggest readers give it a look and a listen.

Petrolino: What are you seeing now on a federal level as our biggest challenges as gun owners and for the preservation of the Second Amendment?
Rizzo: Well, I believe that national reciprocity is eminent. Obviously I’d like to see constitutional carry. I think that’s a little bit of a more difficult legislation to get through, constitutional carry. I know that purple and blue areas would not necessarily be open to that. But national reciprocity…I mean, you get a driver’s license in New Jersey, and you get to drive everywhere in the country. So if you can get a concealed carry [permit] in any state, you should have national reciprocity to carry in any state.

Rizzo openly discussed in the past, and even in this conversation, that he was one of the few people in New Jersey to actually have a concealed carry permit. Carry is a topic that’s pretty contentious in New Jersey, and as such, Rizzo reiterated to me his circumstances later on in our conversation.

I asked Rizzo about his view on the cause celeb in 2022, so-called “ghost guns.” Rizzo reiterated his strong support for national reciprocity and gave me his view on home manufactured firearms.

Well, again, I feel like that’s why the national reciprocity is a clear path to have anybody who wants a concealed carry to be able to get it in a very red state, and then they get their reciprocity. As far as “ghost guns”, I mean, I am for the right to have guns, whether a manufacturer builds them or you build them yourself. I use the vehicle driver’s license as my example. You could buy a car, or you could build a car. I mean, come on, why does the manufacturer have to do it? I feel like it’s just a way to sort of keep tabs on the Second Amendment community, to know what they’re doing and to know where they are. And really, it’s an interesting position that the government’s taking, because that doesn’t really exist on any other level. – Philip Rizzo

Approaching the issues that we have in the United States, with the majority of the country mostly respecting the Second Amendment, I asked Rizzo about what he’d propose as a Congressman.

Petrolino:  Should you be elected, and you do take a seat as Congressman, what kind of legislation do you see yourself putting out? And supporting, other than say, national reciprocity is obviously a good one…and I don’t know too many people in our camp that would disagree with that…so what else would you see yourself putting out?
Rizzo: I think it’s sort of a fine line, right? Because obviously, the Second Amendment, within the Bill of Rights is national right. But the argument from the other side would be state sovereignty. So living in New Jersey, we have the ten round magazine capacity. I would love to see legislation that says you cannot restrict the manufacturer’s magazine capacity. Now, there would be theoretically some pushback on that, saying “Well, you’re violating the state’s sovereignty, you’re violating states rights,” but I don’t think a state can violate the Second Amendment. So that would sort of be our argument, counter argument. And then back again, I would love to be able to see people be able to buy a firearm and the magazine that comes with it, that’s the one you can use, without having a state reach in and become overbearing. I don’t think a person’s right to the Second Amendment should be based on the state they live in.

Rizzo and I talked more about the other big topics we’re dealing with federally. Our conversation continued:

Petrolino: We touched on a couple of things that you and I spoke about last year, like, carry reciprocity, you obviously said you’re a fan of permitless carry or constitutional carry, where we shouldn’t have to have a permit to carry or magazine capacities as well. Just for my readers, what about any limitations on semi-automatic firearms, like AR’s, AR platforms, and states that are currently usurping people’s rights by putting restrictions on those firearms?
Rizzo: No, not at all. There’s nothing in the federal law that, within the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, that should have those restrictions. And again, I don’t think that there should be those things within individual states that take firearms of a particular platform away from the citizenry of that state. I’m speaking from the position of New Jersey, we are dealing with that on a regular basis under Phil Murphy. We have a liberal legislator, we have the worst governor in America. And we deal with this sort of oppression all the time. And my opinion is it’s unconstitutional. The Bill of Rights is there and as a former pastor, the First Amendment…listen, that’s why we dumped tea, right? In the harbor. Because we don’t believe that the preachers needed to pay their “preachers tax,” their license to preach. We weren’t going to pay that tax back to England. We were just going to preach. And so the First Amendment doesn’t have limitations on it. As a former pastor, I could speak confidently on that. As a gun enthusiast and supporter of the Bill of Rights, [the] Second Amendment, my position is exactly the same.
Petrolino: Absolutely. Is there anything that you would say, you know, to New Jersey? What would you say to Phil Murphy about the gun laws that we have, or the legislature as a whole?
Rizzo: I mean, I’d love to see the federal government take the reins on them. Again, I believe they are overreaching. I believe that they are violating…they’re restricting the constitutional rights that we have as American citizens. People say, “Well, it passed the legislator, and it was signed into law.” Well, they can’t pass illegal laws. I mean, I still, I feel that we are going to be able to rein them in this red wave of 2022. I personally believe is real. I believe it’s coming. And when it does, Phil Murphy and the New Jersey legislature, we’re going to take the rattle away from the baby, because they don’t know what they’re doing. It’s time the grown ups take control of the room.

Rizzo’s description of the baby having their rattle taken away from them made me snicker. I often talk about the day when progressives should throw up their arms and say “I need an adult.” We all know that’s not going to happen. In the same vein, I asked Rizzo about his speculation on what, if it’s ruled as such, a positive opinion for gun owners in NYSRPA might be like in progressive strongholds. How’s this going to go down when a big portion of the so-called “gun control” rattle is taken away?

They’re gonna do it kicking and screaming. We spoke [about this], I was issued a concealed carry in New Jersey. There’s not very many of them. And justifiable need, that’s just ridiculous. No, I was able to prove it. I’m not happy that I had to jump through the hoops of getting it, and it took almost a year. But within that year, I was always pastoring in an urban area, I was always having a cash business for our family. And I was an amputee since 1980. So why should it take a year, even though I was successful in proving justifiable need? I think that it’s an assault on our liberties to have to do that. I think New Jersey would be next. It’ll be the next domino to fall in the area of freedom. But they’re not going to be happy about it. They will do it kicking and screaming. – Philip Rizzo

I wanted Rizzo to get a chance to give me his pitch. I opened up the floor and asked him to tell me what he wanted my readers to know and the voters in his district.

Well, there’s a clear distinction in this Republican primary, no doubt about it. I am the conservative in the race, there is no other choice. Tom Kean has vote after vote after vote to take away our Second Amendment rights. We spent a lot of money researching his votes…researching votes in the New Jersey legislature. And we built an entire website to put out there for the voters, so that they understand who Tom Kean is when it comes to the Second Amendment. If you go to Real Tom Kean dot com, there’s a voting record. Drop down that drop down, go to the Second Amendment, and look at the votes that he has. He has voted “yes” to take away our rights as New Jersey citizens. If anybody is a Second Amendment enthusiast in the district, and they go to Real Tom Kean dot com, Phil Rizzo’s getting their vote. Make no mistake about it. – Philip Rizzo

As is customary, I wanted to give Rizzo a chance to tell people where to look to find more information about him and his campaign:

Petrolino: Phil, I really appreciate your time. Where can people find you? How can they reach out to you? How can they help you? How can they help your campaign?
Rizzo: We need some more money. And we need some more door knockers. I mean, that’s what campaigns are all about, dollars and doors, right? You gotta be able to knock doors, and you gotta get enough money to put mailers and digital ads on the doors you don’t knock. So dollars and doors. That’s what we need help with. People can reach out to our campaign through all social media platforms, Jersey Rizzo. And also our campaign website, Jersey Rizzo dot com.

This interview was the third time I got to talk with Philip Rizzo on his political views and potential plans should he take an office. Rizzo has no track record, so we don’t know how he’s voted on things in the past – it’s just not there. Given his strong vocal support of the Second Amendment, on gun issues he has an “A?” from me. I have not had a chance to interview any other candidates, but I am more than willing and happy to do so should the opportunity arise.

The entirety of and fully unedited version of my conversation with Philip Rizzo can be listened to in the embed below or by going HERE. I urge those who are interested in learning about Rizzo to do so, as this article does not cover everything we spoke about.