MORRISTOWN – Mikie Sherrill says she grew up with guns in her house, but never saw a so-called assault rifle until she joined the Navy.
Gun owners have changed and not for the better. Today, some have no qualms about putting photos of children on Christmas cards holding an AR-15. That’s no hyperbole; some Republicans in Congress have done precisely that.
And that was Sherrill’s point in addressing a rally Saturday morning outside Town Hall in favor of restoring a nationwide ban on semi-automatic weapons.
The CD-11 congresswoman told about 150 people assembled on the building’s front lawn that neither police nor teachers signed up to be confronted with military style weapons.
And speaking as a mother, Sherrill said she did not sign up for her children to go through active shooter drills in school. Now that she has a daughter ready to go to college, Sherrill said one of her daughter’s concerns is going to school in a safe location.
A federal assault weapons ban was enacted in 1994, but it was only for 10 years and it expired in 2004. Efforts to reinstate it have proved futile.
As mass shootings continue – and continue – so do attempts to pressure federal officials to take action.
Saturday’s event was organized by Moms Demand Action, a gun control group, to coincide with Mother’s Day.
“Forget the flowers and cards, we want change,” is how the event was described. A blunter message may have been, “We need more than thoughts and prayers.”
The landscape in New Jersey is a favorable one.
Assault weapons are banned in the state and Sherrill said New Jersey is one of only two states to have an “A” rating in terms of gun regulations. She said that while gun violence is increasing nationwide, it decreased by 10 percent in New Jersey, according to recent data.
The nation is a different story.
Reality tells us there is no chance of reinstating a federal assault weapons ban with Republicans controlling the House. So under the best of circumstances, nothing can happen until 2025. And that makes a big assumption, namely that Joe Biden is reelected and Dems win control of both houses.
This debate is yet another sign of the deep polarization of the day; time was when many Republicans in New Jersey supported some gun control laws.
But now, some Republicans in primary battles are more apt to appear in social media posts holding firearms.
Back at the rally, Sandi Mayer, the council president in Morristown, asked the crowd:
“Are you fed up? Are you fed up?”
The question seemed designed to encourage further action.
Tim Dougherty, the town’s mayor, also spoke, saying it’s “our responsibility as people and as citizens of this country” to continue speaking out for gun safety and for banning assault weapons.