Urgent: Reinstate Ban on Assault Weapons to Prevent Mass Killings | Rev. Robert Moore

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the nearly 600 victims and their families of the largest mass shooting in U.S. history last Sunday night in Las Vegas. The mass carnage made that city into what can only be described as a war zone.

But our response needs to include more than prayers and moments of silence. We need to act to prevent more mass shootings, which are now occurring at an average of more than one per day.

The weapons of choice for such mass shootings are known as assault weapons. They were designed for the battlefield, which is the only place they should be allowed. They can rapidly fire bullets as fast as the shooter can pull the trigger. They were easily adapted by the shooter to become automatic weapons in which a single pull of the trigger can spray bullets with no pause.

The hopeful news in taking on such a monumental but urgent challenge is that New Jersey has banned such weapons since 1991, and they were banned nationally from 1994-2004. Tragically, the national ban had a sunset clause after 10 years, so it automatically expired when then President George W. Bush refused to seek its renewal.

New Jersey’s Assault Weapons Ban is a good basis for the feasibility of a renewed national ban. In 1993, after the NRA had helped elect an anti-assault-weapons ban majority in the N.J. legislature in 1991, large majorities voted to rescind New Jersey’s Ban. Then Governor Florio vetoed the rescission, and a vote to over-ride that veto easily succeeded in the N.J. Assembly.

Three weeks later, a vote was scheduled in the N.J. Senate. We in Ceasefire NJ mobilized intensively in the faith community and elsewhere. Many of the 70 percent of New Jerseyans who wanted to keep the ban urgently contacted their N.J. Senator.

What followed was the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a legislative miracle: not a single N.J. Senator voted to rescind the ban! When the Senator who represented our district, who supported the NRA, was asked why he voted to keep the ban, he said it was because he got 2,000 phone calls and 90 percent urged keeping the ban.

The fact that we were successful in breaking the NRA’s stranglehold in New Jersey at least partly inspired the successful effort the next year to pass the National Assault Weapons Ban. Despite that fact that, unlike the New Jersey Ban, that included a grandfather clause, reputable studies showed that the National Ban resulted in a nearly 2/3 reduction in shootings with assault weapons.

We can seek to pass a National Assault Weapons Ban again. We need to press to have it introduced and voted on before the 2018 Congressional elections. In the 2006 mid-terms, the Coalition for Peace Action, of which Ceasefire NJ is a Project, helped make the Iraq War a litmus test issue, and the majority of those elected were opposed to that war.

Readers interested in learning more or getting involved in such an effort are urged to visit peacecoalition.org and click the Ceasefire NJ icon on the right.

The Rev. Robert Moore is Executive Director of the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action, of which Ceasefire NJ is a Project.

More in Opinion

Cards for Bill Hemp will brighten his holiday | Letter to the editor

To the editor: Just seven years ago, my Uncle Bill Hemp decided… Continue reading

Evangelicals Vote, ‘Nones’ Falter | James A. Haught

In the 2018 Election, America’s shrinking segment of white evangelicals mobilized strongly… Continue reading

Pelosi Gives Trump an Important Civics Lesson | John L. Micek

Somewhere, Dorothy Parker is smiling. In one withering remark on Tuesday, once… Continue reading

Top 10 Comedic News Stories of 2018 | Raging Moderate

Sit the kids down. Let the dogs out. Prop the grandparents up.… Continue reading

The Republican Election Fraud that Trump Refuses to Tweet About | Dick Polman

In case you’re wondering why you should care about a scandal-ridden House… Continue reading

Trump’s 98th week in office | In cartoons

Our cartoon chronicle of the 45th president continues with a look back… Continue reading

Bigger is not better, it’s time for a break | Letter to the editor

To the editor: We moved here, like almost all of us, because… Continue reading

Good location near downtown for garage | Letter to the Editor

To the editor: This article is a follow-up to Gary Pettersen’s letter… Continue reading

Big week for Gov. Inslee | The Petri Dish

OLYMPIA — Can a little known thoroughbred from the Pacific Northwest capture… Continue reading

Most Read