EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — The township committee passed a resolution Wednesday announcing it will support residents’ constitutional right to keep and bear arms at a meeting packed with Second Amendment advocates.
“We’re very excited,” said Sandy Hickerson, of Absecon, an organizer of a group of Atlantic County gun owners who had asked for the committee to pass the resolution.
“We’re so proud of the mayor here in Egg Harbor Township and the councilmen that they stood up for our Second Amendment rights, and we couldn’t be happier as law-abiding citizens that they did that,” she said.
While the resolution itself is non-binding, it states the committee intends to oppose any efforts to “unconstitutionally” restrict the right to keep and bear arms.
The committee intends to use legal means at its disposal including “legal action, the power of appropriation of public funds and the right to petition for redress of grievances,” according to the resolution that Township Administrator Peter Miller read aloud at the regular meeting,
The resolution is based on legislation passed in Cape May County last month in a recent push by advocates to create “Second Amendment/Lawful Gun Owner Sanctuaries.”
Egg Harbor Township is the first municipality in Atlantic County to pass this type of resolution.
The township’s all-Republican committee expressed immediate support for the action, which was not originally listed on the night’s agenda.
While they debated modifying certain language in the document itself, the committee ultimately decided to vote on it that night rather than wait for their next meeting in March.
“We’re all in favor of Second Amendment rights,” said committeeman Andrew Parker. “I think the only thing we’re trying to do here tonight is to make sure we have the language right for Egg Harbor Township.”
They agreed to keep a portion of the resolution that expresses opposition to pending Assembly Bill 6003, which would require gun owners to carry $50,000 in liability insurance, among other restrictions.
The committee also decided to remove the term “sanctuary” from the resolution.
“It's a great thing to get this done and move it forward,” Committeeman Frank Balles said about passing the resolution. The former Atlantic County Sheriff reported at the meeting he is a life member of the National Rifle Association.
Committeeman Joe Cafero also announced his support, saying that the topic of gun rights was the reason why he first got into politics.
“(For) 48 years I have been adamant, 100% pro-Second Amendment,” he said.
While the committee expressed its support, some of the more than 30 advocates who attended decided to speak at Wednesday’s meeting.
Township resident James Casas, who stated he is Hispanic and a registered Democratic voter, said he believed the issue goes beyond party lines.
“This is not just a Republican issue. This is an issue for all Americans,” he said.
No one spoke against the action. It passed unanimously.
The Atlantic County freeholders were presented with a similar resolution last month and have since stated that they are waiting on review of their solicitors.
“We’ll be asking all municipalities to jump on board — whether Atlantic county approves it or not — we will be going after every township,” Hickerson said.
The committee will hold its next regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 4.