New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy loves him some gun control. In fact, he’s not exactly one to say no to a gun control law, no matter how stupid it may seem.
Recently, he trotted out a series of new gun control proposals, bills he’s quite sure his state needs for whatever reason.
To be sure, this is New Jersey. Those bills are probably going to pass. However, he’s now getting some pushback from the left of all places. Of course, when you see why there’s pushback, the fact that it’s coming from the left is no surprise.
Senator Ronald L. Rice (D) has represented LD-28 for the last 35 years. He said that while he would likely support most of the proposals, Trenton was missing the bigger picture because it was unwilling or unable to have the necessary conversations. Part of the reason why Trenton was failing to address the root causes of urban gun crime, Rice said, was because the leadership has not been consulting the voices from those cities.
“The concerns we always have in the community are automatic weapons and small arms that young people are getting,” Rice said. “To some of them, they’re a toy. I’ve always argued that we need education about guns and why you shouldn’t have or possess them in certain circumstances, and we need something for the young people in the urban communities to do and we don’t want to address that. It requires a lot of money to build infrastructures for after school playgrounds and computers kids can occupy themselves with. Even in this space they can learn more about guns just by using computers to find the pros and cons. As always, they are occupied with the feel-good stuff, and we need to address that.”
While the Murphy administration has set its sights on large, expensive, and uncommon weapons such as .50 caliber arms, Rice said, “The majority of our suicides are committed by people with small arms, pistols. It’s not just for urban communities, but it is problematic for wealthier communities with people taking their lives by suicide. Anything that can protect our society without violating our rights, I support. I have always disagreed with the NRA interpretation of the Second Amendment, because the Second Amendment was really talking about the militia in that period of time and today our militia is the National Guard. So, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a right to bear arms, but I don’t think it should be interpreted the way the NRA interprets it. We can regulate and we need to regulate. The problem is that money continues to get in the way and folks don’t want to take the stance that needs to be taken to fight back against those extremists of the NRA or the extremes of gun ownership.”
Now, I’m pretty sure Rice and I don’t agree on much of anything, but he’s got something of a point. Murphy is pushing an anti-gun agenda, but he didn’t bother to look at what people closer to the problem thought they needed. He’s got a right to be upset because he’s expected to back this kind of thing simply because he’s a Democrat.
What’s more, while Rice isn’t exactly pro-gun, there are things he thinks the state should look at that he may have a valid point on.
For Rice, one of the vexing behaviors he observed in Trenton was that there were large amounts of money for programs when there was will, but he felt that those resources were not being dedicated to where the causes of violence, be it gun-related or otherwise, could be lessened. “There is a direct relationship between violence, gun violence, mental health, broken families, homelessness, lack of employment, things like that—and I’m sure the governor and my colleagues understand that. They don’t like to talk about it, because when you talk about it, you’re talking about significant dollars. When COVID-19 hit us, we’re talking about $14.2 billion in tax incentives and credits to keep businesses around, we talk about $9.9 billion in bonding to assist small businesses, landlords, and tenants, all the right things to do. But we’re never talking about significant numbers or anything close—because we don’t need that much—to help urban mayors retrofit pools in recreation facilities, or build new ones. We never talk about these kids. They’re growing up in these environments, and you’re a product of your environment. So, if all you see is violence, people getting shot, families breaking up, then that’s what you learn. It’s a process. If you see young people growing up, going into playgrounds, they go to school, graduate, go to work, and that’s what they think people do, then that becomes the norm. We don’t have these kinds of conversations.”
In other words, he wants to address the underlying causes of violence.
Sorry, but some of those are things I can get behind. Maybe not everything, but it’s a discussion we can have.
Plus, of course, we’re watching Murphy get hammered from the left, which is always fun for the whole family. He should, too, because when you’re trying to ban 50 caliber rifles–something which is almost never used in crime–but ignoring the base causes for violence in the first place, you deserve to get hammered.
Will Rice’s proposals be taken seriously? Probably not. Not in New Jersey, anyway.