Last month’s mass shooting in Colorado has led some to call for new weapons restrictions, while others have said current laws are adequate — a split that plays out in a local race for Congress.
Earlier this week, U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., proposed limits on ammunition sold online. It would require sellers to be licensed and keep sales records, and would require licensed dealers to report the sale of 1,000 rounds of ammunition to an unlicensed person within five business days.
Lautenberg also said he would reintroduce a bill that would ban the sale of gun magazines that hold more than 10 bullets, a bill he proposed in the wake of the shooting of former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in January 2011. A similar, earlier federal ban lapsed in 2004.
U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd, would not speak to a reporter about gun control following the Colorado shooting, but his opponent, Democrat Cassandra Shober, said she supported parts of Lautenberg’s proposals.
In an emailed statement, LoBiondo described the movie-theater shooting in Colorado as “the act of a single individual whose mental illness was missed by health professionals” and that his thoughts and prayers went to the victims and their families.
“Unfortunately, this isolated event will renew the ambitions of Second Amendment opponents to restrict the constitutional rights of South Jersey residents,” he said. He said this election was about the region’s economy.
Shober also said her thoughts and prayers were with the families. She wrote in an email that she supported Lautenberg’s proposal to ban high-capacity gun magazines.
“I am hopeful that we can get this, and other, common sense laws in place and work to prevent tragedies like this in the future,” she wrote.
In a subsequent interview, Shober said online ammunition sales should be at least monitored. She noted that a person faces restrictions buying antihistamines, or allergy medication, and that if a person deposits $10,000 in a bank at one time, they have to fill out a disclosure.
“If you buy 6,000 rounds of ammunition in this short enough period of time, a red flag should go up,” Shober said.
She said current state laws were adequate but that she needed to better familiarize herself with federal law.
“Gov. (Chris) Christie has talked about enforcing the laws we’ve already got, and I’m good with states’ rights,” she said.
She said there needed to be a national conversation on gun violence. There are problems, she said, but there are also plenty of responsible gun owners.
“It’s important that we do have a right to gun ownership, but it’s important to take a look at sensible gun laws and enforcing what we’ve got with an eye towards gun violence prevention,” Shober said.
LoBiondo has long opposed stricter gun control legislation, and his stance played a key role in his initial election to Congress.
In July 1990, while still a state Assemblyman, LoBiondo was one of about 150 people who participated in a Vineland rally both against a state semiautomatic assault-firearm ban and the local state senator who voted for it.
LoBiondo was a primary sponsor of state legislation to roll back the ban two years later, saying in April 1992, “If the governor and the attorney general had put the same energy into cracking down on the real criminals who prey on innocent victims instead of punishing legal gun owners, we would be able to begin an aggressive campaign to take back our streets and neighborhoods.”
LoBiondo ran for Congress in 1994. In the Republican primary, the National Rifle Association backed LoBiondo over former Atlantic County state Sen. Bill Gormley, the lone Republican state senator to vote for the ban. The NRA then spent $30,000 on radio advertising in the race’s waning days.
“The law-abiding gun owners of New Jersey just taught the U.S. Congress a lesson,” NRA legislative action director Tanya Metaksa said in a statement after the race.
LoBiondo rolled over Democrat Louis N. Magazzu in the fall, replacing U.S. Rep. William Hughes in the House. Hughes, a Democrat, voted for President Bill Clinton’s national assault-weapons ban, which passed the House by one vote.
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