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MONTCLAIR – Does Mitch McConnell care about what a group of New Jersey politicians and activists say about gun control?
Bob Menendez hopes so.
The state’s senior senator joined Rep. Mikie Sherrill, local officials and a host of gun control activists at a press conference Wednesday at town hall. Few would question the presentation.
On display was a map of the United States identifying about 20 mass shootings with semi-automatic weapons over the last decade or so. All corners of the nation were impacted.
Menendez talked about this being the first week of school for most New Jersey students. He noted that students traditionally return to school with questions about their new teachers, making new friends and whether they will “make the team.”
But these days he said, many wonder, “Will my school be next?”
As mass shootings continue seemingly unabated. Democrats are trying to bring about what really is a modest gun law reform – background checks to cover personal gun sales and those taking place at gun shows. Next on the list are laws limiting magazine capacity to 10 rounds and a federal ban on semi-automatic weapons. Such a ban existed from 1994 to 2004 and the republic somehow survived.
Polls indicate support for all of that, but that has done nothing to prompt McConnell to allow the GOP-Senate to consider measures the Democratic-controlled House already has passed – like the background check bill.
That was why Menendez, Sherrill and their large bloc of followers came together Wednesday. Similar events have occurred around the country, especially as the August recess was marked by more mass shootings.
But there was an obvious question.
Bluntly put, is the Senate Majority Leader going to listen to a group of liberals in Montclair?
The literal answer to that, of course, is no.
But Menendez tried to push the issue a bit further, saying that the only reason the gun issue is being discussed at all is because Democrats are talking about it. And he said the “rising pressure” on McConnell has to increase.
He then quoted Adlai Stevenson.
“When I get the heat at home, I see the light in Washington,” was the quote. And Menendez said he aims to generate “a lot of heat.”
You have to love the history lesson, but that may not help with the politics of the day.
The Republicans’ conservative base opposes expanding gun laws and McConnell seems in no mood to upset them.
One of the speakers was Joseph DiVincenzo, the Essex County Executive.
“It all comes down to politics,” he observed.
And at the moment, McConnell is playing the political game his way.