TRENTON – Assembly lawmakers cracked open the door on a heated debate Wednesday morning as the lower chamber began discussion on a package of gun bills.
Gun right advocates and those in favor of tighter firearms restrictions came face-to-face in the Statehouse as the General Assembly posted more than 20 bills Democratic lawmakers say aim to prevent gun violence.
“We’re here today for a series of emotional discussions,” said Assemblyman Charles Mainor, (D-31), chairman of the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.
“We may not agree today on everything, but one thing I hope we can agree on is we must do what’s best for the people of New Jersey,” he said. “Enough is enough. … No more talk, it’s time for action.”
Residents packed the committee room and filled Statehouse hallways as well as an overflow room. Attendees heckled lawmakers testifying before the committee and were warned that outbursts would not be tolerated.
“We will shut it down and we will move it forward,” Mainor said.
Many attendees included members of the New Jersey Second Amendment Society, which staged a rally outside of the Statehouse last week in which hundreds gathered to oppose the proposed bills.
Gun right advocates cheered lawmakers and officials who opposed the proposals.
Republicans questioned Democrats’ motives in pushing through such a wide range of bills during a single committee hearing.
“What we’re seeing is very unusual,” said Assemblyman Sean Kean, (R-30). “I just believe that these important issues deserve to be fully vetted.”