By Assemblywoman Linda Stender
It’s basic common sense – no gun licenses for those on the FBI Terrorist Watch List.
It is also the basis of key legislation included in a comprehensive Assembly Democratic bill package on gun violence prevention.
Let’s face it. Any discussion on gun violence can be an emotional issue ripe with disagreement, but one would think the concept- no gun permits for terrorists- would be a slam dunk with everyone charged with representing the public interest.
Shockingly, this is not so.
When a bill I sponsored to keep guns out of the hands of those named on the national Terrorist Watch List came up for consideration, many Assembly Republicans voted against it.
One Republican lawmaker likened the bill to a “communist witch hunt,” and others showed their dissent by either voting no or abstaining against the bill.
Terrorists are on the Watchlist because their intentions to harm people and property are well-known.
Consider this: more than 200 people suspected of ties to terrorism bought guns in the U.S. in 2010 alone. Those 247 people who were allowed to buy weapons did so after going through required background checks.
As U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg once put it, “There’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to stop a terrorist from buying a dangerous weapon in the United States.”
My bill, quite simply, would statutorily establish a specific safeguard to disqualify a person named on the consolidated Terrorist Watchlist maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Terrorist Screening Center from being issued either a firearm’s identification card or a permit to purchase a handgun.
While current law provides for the issuance of a firearms identification card or permit to be denied to any person if it “would not be in the interest of the public health, safety or welfare,” the serious and potentially threatening nature of a person named on the Terrorist Watchlist warrants a separate statutory provision denying that person’s capability to lawfully obtain a firearm in this state. An aggrieved person who is denied a permit under the bill would have the right to request a hearing in Superior Court to appeal the denial.
This is the bottom line: We should never underestimate what a terrorist may or may not do.
We, as Americans, have experienced too much violence in the past two decades, devastating and life-changing. Our children or communities have endured much more than deserved. Today, it seems as one community heals another is just beginning the process at the hands of senseless acts of gun violence.
Strengthening statutes to better protect our communities is simple logic. What we do, as legislators, should protect the people of New Jersey. We must at all times and all costs do what best for the people of New Jersey. Nothing can make more sense than that.
Assemblywoman Linda Stender is represents the 22nd Legislative District, which includes portions of Middlesex, Somerset and Union counties.