WASHINGTON — Talks to revive gun control legislation are quietly under way on Capitol Hill as a bipartisan group of senators seeks a way to bridge the differences that led to last week’s collapse of the most serious effort to overhaul the country’s gun laws in 20 years.
Drawing on the lessons from battles in the 1980s and ’90s over the Brady Bill, which failed in Congress several times before ultimately passing, gun control supporters believe they can prevail by working on a two-pronged strategy. First, they are identifying senators who might be willing to change their votes and support a background check system with fewer loopholes.
Second, they are looking to build a national campaign that would better harness overwhelming public support for universal background checks — which many national polls put at near 90 percent approval — to pressure lawmakers [Read More]
CFPA's Ceasefire NJ Project Director, Nicola Bocour (second from right) meets with Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (second from left), primary sponsor of gun violence prevention legislation in the New Jersey Assembly. Some 22 bills, including the ones Assemblyman Greenwald sponsored, were passed on February 21.
State officials, with the help of local authorities, have been conducting a gun buyback campaign in several New Jersey cities, an effort to reduce gun-related crimes that they say was planned before the Newtown, CT, shooting. Since December, the state has spent $1.2 million on five buybacks. They’ve collected a record haul of more than 9,000 firearms, including rocket launchers, assault weapons, and submachine guns.
Nicola Bocour, director of Ceasefire New Jersey, said the focus should be on the legislation.
“That’s the most effective way to deal with this issue,” she said.
The Assembly approved a multibill package on February 21 that would require all ammunition sales to be conducted by licensed dealers on a face-to-face basis, banning mail order sales; limit magazine capacity to 10 rounds; and prohibiting the state pension system from investing in companies that manufacture or import assault weapons for civilian use. The bills have been sent to the Senate and have not been assigned to a committee.
“We have been urging the Senate to bring through committee and to the floor the same bills and the same content,” Bocour said. “ We are advocating they not change them to water them down. We believe in the legislation passed by the Assembly and we want to see them put in place.”
She said that Ceasefire is not opposed to buyback programs -- they help create awareness of the issues surrounding guns -- but there is a concern that focusing on buybacks could ultimately be deceptive, creating an impression that something is being done when it is not.
“There are too many guns in circulation and it is better to have them back in responsible hands rather than have them out there floating around,” she said. “But if someone was going to tell me that you have five things to do to combat gun violence, I am not sure if [buybacks] would be in the top five or even the top 10.” [Read More]
Nicola Bocour, the project director of Ceasefire NJ, noted that several rampages, including the one by Jared Lee Loughner, who shot 19 people, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, in Tucson in 2011, were stopped only when the killer paused to reload. The ban, she said, “would make it more difficult for shooters to inflict maximum damage in a short period of time.” [Read More]
For Immediate Release
January 18, 2013
Ceasefire NJ, the state’s leading gun violence prevention organization, was pleased to hear Governor Chris Christie cite New Jersey’s strong gun laws as one of the areas in which NJ has been successful in addressing the issue of gun violence. We agree with the Governor that NJ has some of the strongest gun laws in the nation and are, like him, very proud of that fact and believe that our laws have made this state safer. The Governor himself acknowledged that there is a problem of gun violence in this country and in this state and we maintain that there are ways to significantly reduce the violence through new common-sense legislation on both the federal and state levels.
We are encouraged that Governor Christie specifically referred to New Jersey's longstanding and effective ban on assault weapons as a "common sense" measure. However, we would ask the Governor, “If it is good common sense for New Jersey, why not for the nation?” Governor Christie repeatedly refused to address the proposal for a new Federal Assault Weapons Ban and the rest of President Obama’s proposals to reduce gun violence, citing that it was not appropriate for him to comment on this federal issue before Congress. Nicola Bocour, Project Director of Ceasefire NJ, said, "It was puzzling to hear the Governor brag about the number of hours he spent on the phone during the holidays pressuring members of the House and Senate on Sandy relief aid. He was very effective there. How could he, almost in the same breath, claim that he has no influence over Congressional action on gun violence prevention proposals?"
Ceasefire NJ does intend to meet with the Governor’s task force to discuss gun violence prevention policy in New Jersey, but we believe that there are many actions that can be taken immediately to reduce gun violence and will advise that measures be taken before the 60-day time frame the Governor has allotted. For example, we are delighted that the Governor endorsed cracking down on illegal gun trafficking into New Jersey by citing the effectiveness of efforts to go after such illegal sales in originating in such lax gun law states as Ohio. We strongly urge additional such operations targeting illegal guns coming into the state and will recommend that New Jersey consult with New York City Mayor Bloomberg who has successfully reduced illegal guns on their streets using such tactics.
By Chris Ziegler Times of Trenton guest opinion column January 2, 2013
The landmark case District of Columbia vs. Heller (2008) was the first time the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment upholds an individual’s right to possess a firearm. Contrary to popular opinion, this is actually a novel interpretation of the Second Amendment.
The Amendment, which is one of the most awkwardly written sentences in American history, has always been fraught with ambiguity. Traditionally, the Court had ruled in cases such as United States vs. Miller (1939) that the Amendment’s first clause, about “a well regulated Militia,” expressed its true purpose. In Heller, however, Justice Scalia was able to convince the Court that the Amendment’s second clause, about “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms,” trumped the first clause, and that the word “people” somehow refers to individuals rather than to a militia or a collective. [Read more]
DECEMBER 20, 2012IN PLANET PRINCETON
The Palmer Square Green glowed with the light of dozens of candles tonight as about 300 people from various faith walks joined together to remember the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Connecticut.
Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists and people of other beliefs gathered to take part in the “Gathering of Remembrance, Unity and Hope” sponsored by the Princeton Clergy Association, Coalition for Peace Action, the Princeton University Office of Religious Life, the Fellowship In Prayer, Palmer Square and the Nassau Inn.
"Our hearts, minds, thoughts and prayers are with the grieving families,” said Sutinder Singh of the World Sikh Council. “Every time I think of the tragedy, tears come to my eyes. Their families are part of our family. Their children are our children.”
“People have been killed at colleges, cinemas, places of worship — and now, as if to wake us all up — it has happened in an elementary school,” Singh said. [more]
from Planet Princeton December 16, 2012 Photo by Seth Callen
About 50 people gathered at Palmer Square last night to remember the victims of the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. The event was organized by Moveon.org and CeasefireNJ, a project of the Coalition for Peace Action. The organizers called for stricter gun laws in the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. [Read more]
By Minhaj Hassan | September 4th, 2012 - 1:02pm
Princeton, NJ—Ceasefire NJ is deeply saddened that yet another senseless shooting has occurred, tragically taking the lives of three people by use of an assault weapon. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families in Old Bridge as we solemnly reflect on how the overall lack of common-sense gun laws in this nation has left us vulnerable to attack.
New Jersey has the second strongest gun laws in the United States and ranks among the lowest in gun deaths per capita; however, we are still susceptible to gun violence by use of illegal weapons due to overwhelmingly weak gun laws elsewhere. In order to prevent further gun violence in NJ, we must seriously address the illegal trafficking of guns into our state.
It has been reported by a Middlesex County Prosecutor that the weapons used in the Old Bridge shooting this morning were an AK-47 assault rifle and an automatic handgun. Possession of each weapon is prohibited in New Jersey, however few other states have such restrictions. These assault-style weapons are commonly used in mass shootings because of their unique ability to kill as many people as possible in a short amount of time. Assault weapons, used in the shootings in Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, Oak Creek, and Old Bridge, among others, belong on the battlefields, not on our streets.
We are facing an epidemic of gun violence in this nation. Our hearts and prayers are with all of the victims of these terrible shootings, but that is not enough; we must also take action to prevent more such violence. We must reinstate the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, pass the Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act, and implement common-sense regulations on the sale and ownership of guns in order to keep our communities safe.
Below is a statement issued by the Ceasefire NJ Project of the Coalition for Peace Action.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of the victims and their families and we extend our condolences on this Friday, June 20th, following the massacre at the Aurora Theater in Aurora, Colorado. Ceasefire NJ is deeply saddened that once again a massacre has occurred in the United States, with 12 lives senselessly taken by gun violence and another 38 people wounded. Unfortunately, however, mass shootings such as this tragedy in Aurora are not surprising because of the ease of access to guns, especially assault weapons, which have no place in the hands of private citizens.
According to recent coverage, the suspect in today's shooting used an "AK-type" assault weapon which is a military-style weapon designed to featuring high-capacity ammunition magazines capable of firing up to 30 rounds of ammunition without reloading. These are NOT weapons designed for hunting, nor for individual protection; they are designed for combat.
While there is naturally going to be a lot of focus on the suspect now that he has been identified, it would be irresponsible to only blame him as a disturbed individual but seek no change in our attitudes, policies and laws regarding guns and their availability to such individuals.
New Jersey is fortunate to have some of the strongest gun prevention laws in the nation, including a statewide ban on assault weapons. Tragedies like today's massacre remind us that it is crucial for every citizen to call on Congress and President Barack Obama to permanently reinstate the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which was allowed to “sunset” in 2004 after being in effect for ten years.
Nicola Bocour, Project Director of Ceasefire NJ, said: “Ceasefire NJ is honored to stand with Senator Lautenberg and Congresswoman McCarthy in support of the ‘Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act.’ The proposed legislation will help to prevent shootings such as the tragedy in Aurora and save lives by regulating online ammunition sales so that an individual will no longer be able to accumulate an arsenal of ammunition in such a short period of time without detection. Congress must take action against these heinous acts of gun violence and pass the ‘Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act’; the reality is if we don’t demand real and meaningful change about guns and ammunition it is easy to predict more such tragedies.”
Ceasefire NJ has taken a neutral stance on NJ Senate Bill 608 which would permit licensed dealers to display and auction firearms at fund raising events sponsored by certain tax exempt organizations.
Ceasefire NJ has no objection to the change in legislation allowing licensed dealers to display and auction firearms at fund raising events sponsored by certain tax exempt organizations, provided that all of the current laws regarding the buying, selling, and transportation of firearms remain in effect for all auctions and sales of firearms at such fund raising events. Ceasefire's stance will remain neutral only so long as any buyer of a firearm at any auction or sale must continue to undergo and pass the same background checks currently required of all firearms purchasers in NJ before completing the purchase, including the limitation to the purchase of no more than a single handgun in any thirty day period.
Mercer County is holding an event this Saturday, May 12, 2012 at the Trenton Fire Department Headquarters (244 Perry Street) where individuals can turn in a gun in exchange for a $100 ShopRite giftcard -- NO QUESTIONS ASKED! NO ID REQUIRED! Ceasefire is thrilled to support an event to help get guns off the streets and will be providing literature with valuable information on gun violence prevention. Click here to see the flyer.
On April 16, 2007, the lives of 32 people were senselessly taken in the Virginia Tech massacre, the largest mass shooting in U.S. history. Today, on the 5th anniversary of that tragic day, let us resolve to stop the spreading of guns and violence through our communities and campuses. Please sign this petition to help keep guns off campus!
We keep in our hearts and prayers all those who have had their lives forever changed by gun violence.
On Sunday, April 15, 2012 Ceasefire NJ attended Assemblyman Charles Mainor’s event ‘Shoot Hoops, Not Guns’ where 10 teams and over 30 people participated in a basketball tournament to bring awareness to the issue of gun violence.
In the wake of the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin, it is important that we stand our ground together and stop the senseless gun violence that these laws protect. Join us by signing the States United pledge to stand united to prevent gun violence and help prevent more innocent people from falling victim to gun-touting vigilantes!
The "Kill-At-Will" laws, presently in 24 states including FL, contain provisions that generally permit the use of deadly force in self-defense without imposing a duty to retreat when outside the home. Ceasefire is proud to say that NJ does not have a 'Kill-At-Will' law; however, there is currently pending legislation in the U.S. Senate which would force 'concealed carry reciprocity' and make it so that all states that issue concealed carry licenses be required to recognize all licenses from other states, even where there are key differences in their licensing requirements.
In order to help keep you informed of the news surrounding this issue we will be posting links in this section that we believe are interesting and relevant to this discussion. We also encourage you to follow @CeasefireNJ on twitter.
NEWS AND ARTICLES
As we near Holy Thursday and Good Friday of Christian Holy Week, I’ve been reflecting on how Jesus handled the challenge as he, an innocent man of peace, was being arrested by an armed mob on Holy Thursday night. Peter pulled out his sword to defend Jesus with “justified force.” But Jesus reprimanded him, ordering him to “Put away your sword, for
those who live by the sword shall die by the sword.”
This was the ultimate test of a lifetime in which the one Christians call the Prince of Peace taught and lived out nonviolent peacemaking. Even as he was about to be arrested, tortured, and brutally crucified, Jesus refused to use armed force to defend himself, or have his supporters do so.
Yet today many who say they are followers of Jesus advocate the use of armed lethal force not only in self-defense, but also aggressively as in the case of Trayvon Martin in Florida. George Zimmerman went far beyond being a neighborhood watch volunteer, in which he would help be eyes and ears for law enforcement. Disregarding the police dispatcher, he pursued Trayvon and used his gun to kill him.
The Stand Your Ground law passed in Florida in 2005 has been cited as a major reason that Mr. Zimmerman hasn’t even been arrested. Yet such laws lead to vigilantism reminiscent of the old west. “Justifiable” homicides have tripled in Florida since passage of that law.
In fact, not only have such Stand Your Ground laws been passed in 24 states, but the NRA is hard at work promoting guns on campus, allowing more people to carry concealed handguns, and fighting reasonable restrictions that would help ensure that people with backgrounds of violence or severe mental illness can continue to get guns and perpetrate crimes such as those in recent years at Virginia Tech and in Tuscon.
Taking the NRA’s approach to its logical conclusion will lead to communities throughout America looking like the “Showdown at the OK Corral.” Arming more and more people—“living by the gun”—is leading our nation toward a gun violence nightmare.
I would suggest that those of us who take Jesus’ example and teachings seriously should be involved in resisting such expansion of gun “rights” which only leads to many more “dying by the gun”. We instead need to follow the nonviolent examples of Jesus and disciples like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and use the power of nonviolent peacemaking to make our nation and world more peaceful.
Ceasefire NJ is excited to announce our new Twitter feed! We will be sharing news, updates, articles, and statements on the issue of gun violence in our communities. Please join us in our mission to prevent gun violence by following @CeasefireNJ on Twitter!
In the wake of the shooting at Chardon High School, Ceasefire NJ is thinking of everyone who has been affected by this tragedy. We pray that the Chardon community finds peace and kindness in this time of mourning and healing.
States United to Prevent Gun Violence has created a website where you can share your thoughts and prayers for those whose lives have been forever changed by the shooting in Chardon. Support the Chardon community by visiting: http://rememberingchardon.com/
Nicola Bocour Biography
Nicola Bocour is a member of the Ceasefire NJ Project Committee and has been an active member of the gun violence prevention community for over 10 years.
Her involvement began when she co-founded Students For A Safer Tomorrow (SFAST), the Montclair High School student association designed to advocate for common sense gun legislation and spread awareness of the devastating effects of gun violence. Upon graduating from Trinity College in Hartford, CT, in 2004, Nicola returned to SFAST as director and advisor, where she was able to triple membership and greatly increase the number of activities performed by the group.
In 2007, Nicola joined the staff of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence (NYAGV) and created the student association reACTiON at a high school in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. While at NYAGV, she was also a member of a three-person team conducting research and working to reduce gun violence in New York City neighborhoods with the highest prevalence of shootings.
In 2010, Nicola received her J.D. from Seton Hall Law School. In addition to her work in the gun violence community, Nicola has completed legal internships in public interest at the Urban Justice Center and Lawyers for Children, both in New York.
Majahne Williams, 14 years old, takes part in a candlelight vigil to highlight the need to combat gun violence. Majahne lost her mom, Natalie Williams to domestic violence involving a gun, in December 2000. The vigil was held inside Niles Chapel in Princeton.
This is a huge moment. The Senate has announced that it will hold a hearing on the Fix Gun Checks Act of 2011 on Tuesday.
For the first time since the tragic shooting in Tucson, our leaders will discuss real solutions to the deadly flaws in our background check system -- and only because of relentless efforts of supporters like you.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is headed to Washington to testify on the urgent need to Fix Gun Checks, and he will hand deliver every petition we gather before the hearing.
Please watch the short video message from Mayor Bloomberg and ask your friends and family to add their names to our petition before he delivers it to Congress.
To make the biggest impact possible at the hearing, the Fix Gun Checks campaign is coming to Washington, D.C. -- joined by survivors of gun violence, their families, mayors and law enforcement officials.
More than 350,000 Americans -- including you -- have already added their names to the petition to Fix Gun Checks. Please share this video today and ask your friends and family to join you in urging Congress to fix our broken background check system:
Together, we can send leaders in Washington an unforgettable message that we’re fed up with a system that allows 34 Americans to be murdered with guns every day.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns
For Immediate Release Contact: Bryan Miller
January 10, 2011 (856) 371-3038
Ceasefire NJ Calls on Faith Community to Step Up To Combat Dangerous Mix of Political Extremism, Guns and the Gun Lobby
Trenton: In the wake of the devastating shooting rampage of Saturday in Tucson, AZ, Ceasefire NJ, the Garden State’s leading organization devoted to reducing gun violence, expressed sadness at the predictable loss of life and damage to society, and called for citizens and the faith community to ‘step up’ and take the country from those who would use the deadly mix of guns and political extremism to endanger democracy, and innocent lives and sell guns.
The Rev. Robert Moore, Executive Director of the Coalition for Peace Action, of which Ceasefire NJ is a project, said: “We mourn for those needlessly lost, we pray for those wounded and recovering, we cry for the families whose lives have been changed forever. And, we call on all Americans to see the frightening and dangerous conjunction of guns and political extremism to which this horrific event points so clearly.”
The Rev. Gerald Lamont Thomas, Pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Plainfield, NJ and member of Ceasefire NJ’s Steering Team, said: “I call on all faith communities to take courage to become advocates for the call of justice and righteousness to bring America into honest accountability of our social and political rights. It is high time the faithful in this state and country said no to extremists and the gun industry and lobby. We can no longer allow their thinking to dominate our need to have peace within our communities. The people must change our public policies and mandates that govern for all.”
Bryan Miller, Project Director of Ceasefire NJ, said: “The massacre in Tucson shows clearly that we live in dangerous times in this country. We have allowed a lobby whose main goal is to protect and encourage the sales and profits of the gun industry to dictate what is acceptable in law and practice – the result being that we tolerate incredible levels of gun violence. Yet, when extremist are encouraged to use guns by irresponsible politicians and the leaders of the gun lobby, we are shocked. No one should be, as extremist like Sarah Palin and NRA boss Wayne LaPierre have been using threatening words and images for years. Now our country is reaping what they and others have sown.”
The Rev. Shannon Vance-Ocampo, Pastor of Watchung Avenue Presbyterian Church in North Plainfield and member of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, said: “The faith community must act to combat the insidious initiatives and motives of those who would encourage gun violence by allowing the gun lobby to hold the field. I and many others of faith are eager to act to reduce the carnage. We seek to bring the faith-based and grassroots movement to prevent gun violence, Heeding God’s Call, to our state and nation. Heeding has enjoyed success in Philadelphia in confronting the flow of guns to that city’s streets. We believe Heeding can be a means for the faith community to take action to make all streets safer from gun violence (see www.heedinggodscall.org).”
January 11, 2011
The horrifying gun rampage on January 8 in Tucson demonstrates again the devastating effects of allowing a lobby (the NRA and its allies) whose main goal is to encourage the sales and profits of the gun industry to dictate gun laws.
While most of the media attention ab