The two major-party candidates for New Jersey governor took different approaches Monday toward gun control after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history this weekend in Las Vegas, as Democrat Phil Murphy called for “common sense solutions” while Republican Kim Guadagno avoided answering questions about gun policy.
Murphy, who has laid out several gun control proposals, called the Sunday night shooting that left at least 58 dead and 515 injured “heart-rending and gut-wrenching.”
“Today we all support both law enforcement in their pursuit of the facts and the survivors and families trying to come to grips with this senseless act of domestic terrorism,” Murphy said in a statement. “This can’t numb us, but must move us to find answers and common-sense solutions.”
In a statement to Observer, Murphy campaign spokesman Daniel Bryan said, “now has to be the time to talk about sensible gun safety measures,” adding that “we cannot wait until the next tragedy to have this conversation.”
Murphy has outlined several gun control measures he’d sign into law if elected governor, including a ban on .50 caliber rifles; a restriction on the size of magazine capacities; and a requirement that firearms retailers sell “smart guns,” which can only be fired by their owners.
At a campaign event in Boonton after the Las Vegas shooting, Guadagno was asked her position on Murphy’s proposals but said it was too early to talk about it.
“Before we go too much further with that, let’s find out what happened,” she said. “Let’s find out whether that was a legal gun or not a legal gun. Let’s find out whether ISIS provided that gun to the shooter.” (The Islamic State group claimed responsibility, but an FBI agent said investigators have seen nothing connecting the attack to an international terror organization).
Earlier, Guadagno said it was a difficult decision to hold a campaign event after the tragedy in Las Vegas. She said she decided to go forward with it because “we never want the terrorists, even a home-grown one, to win.” She asked for a brief moment of silence.
Other New Jersey officials condemned the shooting and offered sympathies for the victims. In a statement, Senate President Steve Sweeney called the attack a “senseless and horrific tragedy.”
“The numbers are staggering and the loss of life is devastating. My heart breaks for the victims, their families, friends and loved ones,” Sweeney (D-Gloucester) said.