TRENTON – Senator Joseph F. Vitale, D-Middlesex, the prime sponsor of SR-84, a resolution urging the President of the United States and Congress to reauthorize the federal assault weapons ban, issued the following statement regarding the resolution’s passage from the Senate by a vote of 34-0 today:
“In September of last year, the President and Congress made a grave mistake in their failure to reauthorize an assault weapons ban which had protected lives since enacted in the early 1990’s.
“The ban made it illegal to purchase certain high-powered, rapid fire, armor-piercing weapons which had plagued law enforcement officers for some time. And, while many Second Amendment advocates are quick to point out that many of the banned weapons were still available for purchase illegally, I believe that the ban was successful in getting a large number of these guns off our streets.
“Then the wall came tumbling down in September, and gun manufacturers were ready.
“As the authorization ran out of time at the stroke of midnight on September 13, many of the previously-banned guns were rolling off assembly lines in states with less-restrictive gun policies, with gun aficionados ready to purchase. However, I have no doubt that many of these guns also fell into the hands of drug-runners, gangs and other criminals, and many of them may have also found their way illegally across the borders and into states such as New Jersey, where statewide bans are still on the books.
“A double standard of safety when it comes to gun violence is not acceptable to the people of New Jersey. We cannot uphold our State’s firearm regulations when federal inaction jeopardizes our best efforts.
“Assault weapons are designed with one purpose in mind — to take lives. While some owners have no intention to use their weapons in any sort of illegal capacity, a majority of the weapons are used in criminal activity.
“In New Jersey, recognizing these facts, we banned the sale of assault weapons, and the federal government shortly thereafter followed suit. Today, we call on the President and Congress to once again stand with us on the side of safety and reauthorize the federal assault weapons ban.”