Gun safety

We are committed to keeping New Jersey’s gun safety legislation in place and in looking for opportunities to assist law enforcement and the people of New Jersey take steps to make gun ownership safer, and less likely to result in tragic accident or misuse of firearms. In the first instance we are proud that New Jersey already has strong gun safety laws in place and functioning day to day. We encourage and support enhanced gun safety programs around the issue of storing and handling guns in the home. These are the cases, along with domestic violence, where momentary lapses of judgment can lead to tragic results. The benefits to New Jersey must be preserved by turning back proposals to weaken individual state laws by mandating “reciprocity” in gun regulations across states. If this were to pass, visitors to the state of New Jersey would be subject to permit and carry regulation equal to that of the state they come from.

As noted above, New Jersey already ranks among the top states for gun safety legislation. Whereas the federal ban on assault weapons expired in 1994, New Jersey’s remains in place. New Jersey requires anyone who owns a gun of any sort to have a permit and to have passed a background check prior to the issuance of that permit. The state requires a separate permit for the purchase of any hand gun and requires a separate permit for each hand gun purchased. No more than one handgun per month may be purchased in New Jersey. New Jersey mandates a 30 day waiting period between the receipt of the permit and the purchase of a gun for handguns (45 days for non-residents). There is a 7 day waiting period between the purchase of a handgun and the transfer of that gun to the buyer.

Permits to carry concealed weapons are at the discretion of law enforcement. Any person convicted of a felony is ineligible to purchase firearms in New Jersey. Persons convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence offences are prohibited from possessing firearms as are persons subject to protective orders. The state requires all firearm dealers and their employees to be licensed. Probably for this reason, New Jersey has the third lowest rate of guns leaving the state and being used in crimes. On the other hand, about 80% of the guns used in crimes in New Jersey come from outside the state.

Like most states, New Jersey prohibits the sale and ownership of sawed-off shotguns, silencers, and armor penetrating bullets. New Jersey mandates that “personalized handguns” sometimes called “smart guns” be made available once the technology is mature enough for retail sale. Some legislators like Senator Weinberg believe that smart gun technology is available now and should be brought to the New Jersey market, others like Governor Christie claim that the technology is not yet available. There is reason to question whether such skeptics will ever find the technology “ready for market”.

Our LD25 assemblymen, Anthony M. Bucco and Michael Patrick Carroll, have been primary sponsors of the following bill for two legislative sessions – a bill titled “Amends and repeals certain part of the NJ firearms statues.”  It is currently the Law and Public Safety Committee. Primary features of this bill are to eliminate permitting for any person aged 16 or over to purchase a handgun. There would be no background checks beyond those required by federal law. There would be no restrictions on possession, purchase or sale of assault firearms. Restrictions on large capacity ammunition magazines and armor penetrating bullets would be removed. Many of the criminal laws and sentencing provisions related to unlawful possession, carrying, sale, transfer and manufacture of firearms would be eliminated. Committing any crime while in possession of a firearm would be a third degree crime. No mandatory minimum sentences or periods of parole ineligibility would be attached to crimes committed while in possession of a firearm.

On another note….S2483 Domestic Violence Firearms bill

On November 21, 2016 the NJ Assembly passed the domestic violence firearms bill (S2483) which “enhances the protections domestic violence victims by restricting access to firearms by certain persons; provides for minimum terms of incarceration for offenders who commit physically violent acts.”

This bill had a total of 24 sponsors and co-sponsors, five of whom are Republicans.

Roll Call:   Yes {61}   No {2}   Not Voting {8}   Abstains {8} (will provide party affiliation detail here shortly)

Bucco, Anthony M. – Abstain

Carroll, Michael Patrick – Not Voting

Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee

ALP  10/6/2016  –  r/favorably  –  Yes {5}  No {1}  Not Voting {1}  Abstains {2}  –  Roll Call

  Benson, Daniel R. (C) – Yes Danielsen, Joe (V) – Abstain Barclay, Arthur – Yes
  Carroll, Michael Patrick – No Chaparro, Annette – Yes Peterson, Erik – Abstain
  Pinkin, Nancy J. – Yes Rible, David P. – Not Voting

Sumter, Shavonda E. – Yes




From Governor signs bill January 9, 2017

Gov. Chris Christie on Monday signed a popular proposal into law that limits access to firearms for people under restraining orders or convicted of domestic violence offenses. The governor approved it seven months after the Democratic-controlled Legislature threatened to override his May veto of a similar bill that had broad bipartisan support. The bill (S2483) prohibits people convicted of a domestic violence crime or subject to a domestic violence restraining order from possessing a firearm. It requires anyone convicted of a domestic violence crime to sell or surrender their firearms.

“Survivors of domestic violence will be safer than ever before,” Christie said in a statement.




Fiscal Responsibility and the State Budget


Many State Senators, Assemblymen and Assemblywomen like to portray themselves as fiscal conservatives and strong guardians of the public purse. However, their actions do not support those claims. In 2010 when Chris Christie was only a month or two in office, he canceled the ARC Tunnel a new rail tunnel between New Jersey and Manhattan. The ARC Tunnel would have more than doubled the capacity of New Jersey Transit and Amtrak to send trains into Manhattan. Both New Jersey Transit and Amtrak were using their full capacity, and New Jersey Transit was using a number of stop gap measures to keep close to satisfying its ridership demands. (See more under Infrastructure.)

The ARC Tunnel was an 8.7 billion dollar project. The financing was almost entirely from the Federal Government and from quasi-public authorities like the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority. Here is the breakdown of the financing:

In canceling the project Chris Christie took on an obligation to pay the Federal Government back $600 million for work already done. However, he was able to redirect part of the Port Authority’s contribution to the tunnel to other bridge and tunnel projects in Hudson County, thereby avoiding bankrupting the Transportation Trust Fund for another 6 years. The New Jersey legislature went along with him in thereby trading the region’s future for a quick fix.

At the beginning of Christie’s second term environmentalists were rewarded for their efforts to hold Exxon Mobil Corporation responsible for contamination of 1,500 acres of wetlands around their Bayway refinery with a 9 billion dollar judgement requiring the company to clean up the site. The lawsuit was filed by the State DEP in 2004.

Just as the court was about to set terms for the settlement, Christie announced that a settlement had been reached between the state and Exxon Mobile. New Jersey settled for around $250 million, which matched closely to a budget gap. Exxon Mobile was left to its own discretion on how to clean up the site.

These examples are emblematic of how, under the guise of fiscal responsibility, the future of the state is being squandered. The current legislature barely raises a hand to question the budget process and what constitutes sound planning.








Women’s Rights

A long time has passed since Lisa Bhimani canvased in the Denver area for the Equal Rights Amendment with her mom. The ERA was not adopted but the struggle for equal rights and access seems more like it began there, rather than ended there. Since then tremendous progress has been made. Many have read in the chronicles of Gail Collins (When Everything Changed) and others of the discrimination women faced in the workplace, in the market place (no credit cards or mortgages without a cosigning husband or father), in the doctor’s office and in their churches, among many others places and settings. Much has changed. A woman can in large measure make her way in the world, have and raise children, and live her life according to her own lights and preferences.

There remain areas in which women continue to struggle against discrimination. There are “glass ceilings” in many domains. A number of professional and academic disciplines remain largely male enclaves. Most flagrant perhaps is the continued resistance to equal pay for equal work.

In April 2016 the New Jersey legislature passed an Equal Pay for Equal Work bill (S992), in May 2016 Governor Christie vetoed it stating that it was “very business unfriendly.” The bill was voted against in April by the LD25 Assemblymen, Bucco and Carroll, it was voted for in April by the LD25 Senator Bucco, but he changed his vote to “NO” in February 2017 when the bill was brought up for a vote again in the Senate in order to try to overturn Christie’s veto.


New Jerseyans are more concerned than ever about health care now that the GOP has taken steps to attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.  The ACA benefits everyone in New Jersey.  First, think of those who didn’t have care who now do.  288,000 residents of New Jersey get care through the exchanges.  Additionally, more than 500,000 mostly low-wage earners are covered through Medicaid expansion.

Those who already have medical insurance benefit, too.  The ACA eliminates discrimination for pre-existing conditions;  allows adult children up to age 26 to stay on a parents policy;  and bans life time caps on insurance payouts, important for anyone facing a serious medical illness or accident.  Additionally the amount of charity care that hospitals have had to provide has dramatically gone down, allowing for decrease of state and federal reimbursements of $373 million to these hospitals since 2014. 

The plan released by the GOP, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) did not even make it to a vote, as representatives on both sides of the aisle recognized how problematic the bill was.  But that does not mean that Republicans in Washington have completely abandoned their efforts to repeal an replace the ACA.  Moving forward, the New Jersey Legislature will be the first firewall against any health care legislation coming out of Washington and Lisa, Richard and Tom will fight for affordable, universal health care for all our residents.

Of concern in this political climate is access to family planning at clinics like Planned Parenthood.  These clinics offer women wellness exams, cancer screenings, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and access to birth control.  In 2010, Governor Christie cut funding to family planning service providers like Planned Parenthood by $7.45 million, causing 6 centers to close, and others to decrease their hours of operation.  The Republicans in Washington have consistently threatened to cut all federal funding to Planned Parenthood.  Centers like Planned Parenthood rely on federal funding for half of their budget

As pro-choice candidates, Lisa, Tom and Richard support all the services that Planned Parenthood offers, but wish to point out that federal and state funding go only to the 97% of non-abortion related care that Planned Parenthood provides (see graph below.)  This is essential care for low-wage earners and the underserved population.

Lisa, Richard and Tom will vote in support of a budget which restores funding for family planning clinics.

(Source: Planned Parenthood 2013-14 annual report)