POLITICS

Louis Greenwald, New Jersey Assembly Majority Leader, Pushes Gun Control Measures

03/05/2013 06:09 pm ET | Updated Mar 05, 2013

WASHINGTON -- The majority leader of the New Jersey General Assembly is pushing a package of Democratic-sponsored gun control measures, describing them as "common sense" that will not violate the Second Amendment.

Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald (D-Voorhees Township) told The Huffington Post that the 22-bill package, which has passed the Assembly and is pending in the Democratic-controlled state Senate, is only providing measures of safety. Greenwald stressed that the package is not designed -- as opponents have charged -- to hurt the gun and hunting culture in New Jersey.

"I support the Second Amendment and I am a prime sponsor on many these bills," Greenwald said. "Not one of these bills stops the ownership of a rifle for the purposes of hunting."

Legislative Democrats introduced the package in January in response to the school shootings in Connecticut. The proposals include limiting gun magazines to 10 rounds, the terror watch list gun ban, a ban on hollow-point bullets and mandatory mental health reporting to an FBI gun-buying watch list. New Jersey already has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation.

"This is common sense to me," Greenwald said. "It is does not attack the Second Amendment."

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has said he will not publicly comment on the gun proposals until the Legislature is finished working on them. He did note on a radio show last month that he found it surprising how quickly they passed the gun reform measures, given other issues that he has requested that are still pending.

Christie has named a task force to study the gun issue and has made mental health a main focus, similar to other Republican governors nationally. Christie, who supports New Jersey's assault weapons ban, has said the debate should focus on "violence control" instead of focusing on new gun measures.

Last month, the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee held a marathon hearing on the proposals, dominated by several hundred Second Amendment activists protesting the bills. Opponents told the committee that the package would make New Jersey residents more vulnerable to crime while walking down the street, and would also make the state an appealing target for home invaders. The president of the New Jersey Second Amendment Society suggested that lawmakers were in need of psychiatric help for even suggesting the proposals.

A Democratic member of the Second Amendment group told lawmakers that the bills would hurt the state's economy. Ryan McBeth claimed that he is having trouble hiring computer programmers from out of state because they do not want to move to New Jersey due to the existing gun laws.

Greenwald said the Second Amendment group is a "vocal minority" and that the state's residents support gun control.

"The voices of our residents have spoken clearly," he said.

Greenwald fought back against the Second Amendment activists, adding that the bills would decrease crime. He noted that the magazine capacity limit is needed in order to prevent criminals from being able to shoot off more rounds. Pointing to the Newtown shooting, he said that lower magazine counts would have saved lives.

"The difference of 10 or 15 rounds can mean your granddaughter, your daughter," he said.

He took specific aim at those opposing the ban on armor-piercing bullets. Greenwald said he cannot find a specific reason to have those types of bullets for hunting, noting that they are designed to rip through multiple layers of Kevlar in a bulletproof vest. He can see a need for them among military or law enforcement, he said, but not the average New Jersey resident.

"That is the type of ammo that should be reserved for select military," Greenwald said. "I have never seen a deer wearing 48 layers of Kevlar."

CORRECTION: This article has been updated to note that Greenwald opposes lifting the ban on armor-piercing bullets. An earlier version referred to hollow-point bullets.

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