At a re-election campaign stop in Newark Friday, Gov. Jon Corzine joined with a group of New Jersey mayors to stress what they see as a need for a comprehensive package of stricter gun control laws.
The Corzine campaign also charged that Republican challenger Chris Christie opposed additional gun control legislation.
"New Jersey has been a national leader in taking precautions to protect our children and keep our communities safe by keeping guns off our streets," Corzine said. "Stricter gun control measures will further the significant strides we have made to reduce violent crime in our state. Unfortunately, Christie is more concerned with partisan rhetoric and bowing to the special interests in the Republican Party than he is with keeping our streets safe."
Christie has maintained that New Jersey gun laws are "great" and has said, "We don't have a lack of laws on the books; we have a lack of will among the political folks in the city to enforce all the laws on the books . . . what we need is stricter enforcement of the laws we already have."
The Corzine campaign charged that while he was U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, Christie's office's average rank for weapon prosecution per capita from 2002-2008 was 80th out of 93 U.S. attorneys.
Christie's campaign recently said that he had prosecuted "over 1,000 gun cases" as U.S. Attorney. The Corzine campaign claims Christie prosecuted under 800 from 2002-2008.
"The measures called for today can have a profound impact on the safety of Newark, NJ and the law enforcement officers who do the dangerous work of protecting our communities," said Newark Mayor Cory Booker. "I am so grateful that Governor Jon Corzine is working to increase penalties for the illegal trafficking of firearms. These illegal traffickers, and the straw purchasers who aide them, fuel an inordinate amount of the violence in New Jersey. Increasing the consequences they face for selling dangerous firearms and ammunitions will make a difference. Further, increasing penalties for the murder of a police officer and improving the ability for police officers to track weapons used in crimes will empower our state to achieve greater safety and strength."
Among the measures called for Friday include increased penalties for illegal trafficking of firearms, including straw purchases as well as an upgrade in penalties for the illegal sale of an assault rifle, machine gun, sawed-off shotgun, silencer or cop killer bullets. The initiatives would amend firearms laws to specifically address and punish straw purchases of firearms and stiffen penalties for anyone transporting multiple illegal handguns into the state for transfer.
Additional measures include life Imprisonment for the attempted murder of a police officer; a ban on 50 caliber firearms in New Jersey; Mandated micro-stamping technology for new semi-automatic handguns and a call for the federal government to enact a new assault weapons ban, close the gun show loophole, and lift the restrictions on law enforcement's ability to trace crime guns.
— TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM