Tom Malinowski says he learned to shoot as a child in camp.
But things are different today.
He spoke Monday night of a gun culture primarily created by the NRA.
“This kind of worshipping of guns is part of your lifestyle,” Malinowski said at a virtual town hall devoted to gun safety.
By that, Malinowski pointed to Christmas cards in which all family members are shown holding weapons, which is actually something some members of Congress have done.
He also mentioned birthday cakes in the shape of a gun and the notion that people should get specific weapons because they’re suitable for fighting a tyrannical government.
Malinowski observed that some of those looking to fight the government may be looking to shoot a police officer. That, he said, is anarchy.
The day before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, it also struck down a New York law restricting carrying concealed weapons to those who demonstrated why they needed to do so. New Jersey has a similar law.
While the Roe v. Wade ruling seems to have overshadowed the gun opinion, do not be surprised if guns are also an issue in the midterm election.
Most New Jersey Democrats condemned last week’s ruling and they appear to be on safe ground here. By all indications, a majority of state residents have no problem with current New Jersey gun laws.
The court ruling suggested that carrying weapons still can be banned in “sensitive” areas such as schools and government buildings. Malinowski said it’s possible the state can expand the list of “sensitive” areas, which is something the Murphy Administration is considering.
Ironically, the court ruling came the same day that Congress passed a bipartisan gun control bill. The legislation creates more background checks for those under 21, appropriates more money for so-called red flag laws, which are designed to take weapons from unstable people, and closes the “boyfriend loophole.”
This makes it harder for a man convicted of abusing his girlfriend to get a gun; previously it covered only spouses.
Some Republicans in both houses backed the bill, but it was basically a Democratic initiative.
Malinowski said he is “personally delighted” that even a modest reform was accomplished.
But he admitted to not being satisfied.
What many Democrats want are more extensive background checks for everyone and a nationwide ban on semi-automatic weapons, which are often called “assault rifles.”
That is not going to happen unless Democrats expand their majorities in Congress. The problem is that as of now, Dems are merely trying to hold on to what they have.
It can take a while for political events to settle in. But it should not be disputed that last week’s court rulings on guns and abortion run counter to the views of many voters in New Jersey.
The question is, how much will the actions of a right wing court on such emotional issues increase Democratic turnout four-plus months from now.
That’s a pertinent concern for Malinowski who faces Republican Tom Kean Jr. in CD-7. This is the rematch. Malinowski won by about 5,000 votes in 2020.