New Jersey – -(AmmoLand.com)- “Gun violence” is a very serious topic that needs actual contemplation and thought. To be fair, calling gun violence – “gun violence” is not very accurate. Before we can even dive into the subject, we must label it appropriately.
For example, there are instances of “gang violence” or “gangland violence” – which would be violence committed by gangs or gang members. How about “domestic violence”? That would be violence committed by a domestic partner. Community violence? Violence committed by community members, specifically those not acquainted with another. Gun violence then must be violence committed by a gun? Case closed.
Gun violence is a misnomer. Violence that is committed with a gun is something that happens. But no gun is inherently violent.
A gun cannot commit anything, it is an inanimate object, a tool. If a gang member shoots another gang member or an innocent bystander for that matter, it is gang violence – not gun violence. If a man shoots his wife, is that domestic violence? Yes, not “gun violence.” The actor is never the gun.
These optics are very important, and intentional, as they paint a picture in all of our subconscious minds; the correlation that when someone hears the word gun, they immediately think “violence.”
The subject of violence in any form is complex. Never mind the specifics of violence committed with a firearm. Carol Bowne, a New Jersey woman who was stabbed to death by a former intimate partner, is no less dead today because she was murdered with a knife. Knife violence? The sad and telling story of Carol is that she was seeking to purchase a firearm and applied for her purchaser’s permit with her local police department in the town she lived in. She pleaded with the police, had a protective order against her aggressor, sought protective help from the police, and when no one helped her – decided she needed to be armed. By law in New Jersey, a town is supposed to issue such purchaser’s permits within 30 days. Carol was murdered 42 days after applying for the permit she was never issued.
She died alone, as a knife repeatedly pulled the life out of her, helpless, and disarmed.
I chronicled this tragic event in my March 28, 2018 article “Do you Know Carol Bowne? An Open Letter to the Assembly of New Jersey, et.al.” Why did I write that article (which I emailed the text of to every member of the Assembly and Senate in New Jersey back then)? Because on March 25, 2018, it was announced in an NJ.com article that the Assembly was scheduled to vote the following week on a package of anti-civil rights, aka “gun control”, bills. It should be obvious, I was and am against the bills that were voted on, subsequently were passed, and signed into law. Besides testifying at hearings, the only recourse citizens have in such situations are to write to and or call their legislators/executives to make their opinions known.
Unless you are one of the lucky ones to be invited to the many planning meetings held by legislators on these subjects…
Through documents AmmoLand obtained through Freedom of Information Request W163771 I learned there were 13 known “special” meetings from February 13, 2018 to March 13, 2020. These meetings varied in “title”, switching names from “Roundtables” to “Town Hall Meetings” to “Exciting Announcements”, so on and so forth (the full list of which I will include at the end of this article). What was special about some of these meetings? Eight of the 13 meetings specifically mention firearms. All of these meetings had notices communicated to members of anti-civil rights groups looking to strip citizens of their 2nd Amendment freedoms.
One such lucky correspondent was The Reverend Robert “Bob” Moore ([email protected]), from The Coalition For Peace Action (CFPA, peacecoalition.org) and Ceasefire New Jersey (www.peacecoalition.org/campaigns/68-ceasefire-nj/628-ceasefire-nj.html) . The first such recorded meeting was a roundtable on “gun violence.” Scheduled to be in attendance was NJ Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald. Both CFPA and Ceasefire New Jersey are groups against the individual’s right to keep and bear arms. Dolores Phillips, the Legislative Director of Ceasefire New Jersey was copied into Bob’s email to Hilary Beckett (Then an Aide to the Governor, Intergovernmental Affairs, [email protected]), when accepting his invitation to attend the February 13, 2018 meeting.
Who else was at that meeting? It is hard to tell specifically, but looking at the track record of Phil Murphy’s administration, we can assume that members of Moms Demand Action and Everytown could have been there, as they have received invites to and or advanced notice of similar discussions (see OPRA W160618 obtained email from Paul Crupi, [email protected], The Vice President of Public Affairs at the Capital Impact Group, the lobbyist firm used by Moms Demand Action/Everytown, to Justin Braz, Murphy’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative Affairs).
I can tell you who was not invited to this meeting…
I reached out to several civil-rights oriented organizations that safeguard the Second Amendment: The Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, The Coalition of New Jersey Firearm Owners, The New Jersey Second Amendment Society, A representative of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, and The National Shooting Sports Foundation. I sent them the full list of dates and events*** as listed at the end of this article and asked them if they were invited to participate in any of these “discussions” that Governor Phil Murphy’s administration had concerning firearms, “gun violence”, gun safety, etc.
Scott Bach, the Executive Director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs (ANJRPC) had the following to say about my question concerning possible invites from Murphy:
“Neither ANJRPC nor its representatives have ever been invited to any firearms related event or announcement of the Murphy Administration, nor have we been informed in advance that they were occurring. These events have been styled as if they were inclusive, but in fact no representative of any Second Amendment organization have been included to our knowledge.”
The President of the Coalition of New Jersey Firearm Owners (CNJFO), Dan Grdovic, when asked, stated:
“CNJFO has never been invited to or has been asked for input on any roundtable, town hall meetings, pending legislation, or summits held by the Governor's Office or anyone else in the Legislature with regard to Second Amendment or Gun Safety issues. Ironically, our mission statement states in part that ‘CNJFO was founded to advocate for lawful, safe and responsible firearms ownership in New Jersey.' New Jersey's gun laws are designed to only hamper lawful firearms ownership in New Jersey. The existing laws are not followed by violent criminals within the state, and the judicial scheme regularly drops any and all firearms related charges against the most violent criminals, while simultaneously pursuing lynching of otherwise law abiding citizens (See the following cases: Van Gilder, Allen, Twyne). CNJFO would be proud to sit in on any such gathering and provide our members' views to the Executive or Legislative Branches for their consideration.”
“It's time for the Governor to acknowledge his ‘echo chamber' past and invite his opponents to the table for meaningful discussion that includes opposition.”
New Jersey Second Amendment Society (NJ2AS) President, Alexander Rubian said;
“We were not invited to a single one of those events. You can bet we would be there.”
Mark Oliva, the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s (NSSF) Director of Public Affairs quipped back referencing many of the initiatives that NSSF champions such as Project ChildSafe® and Real Solutions®. Both programs advocate for the responsible and safe ownership and storage of firearms. Mark had these comments:
“NSSF was not invited by the governor to attend any of these meetings or roundtable events. Governor Murphy hasn’t reached out to the firearm industry to seek advice or offer opinions on what can be done to achieve true firearm safety. The governor instead has chosen to be openly hostile to the firearm industry, firearm retailers and gun owners. He’s taken every opportunity to deny the ability exercise Second Amendment rights, including unlawfully closing firearm retailers during a national emergency. He only reversed course when faced with court action… Other governors have sought to include the industry in these effective programs, including Texas Governor Greg Abbott. NSSF is willing to sit down at the table with anyone who is serious about achieving real solutions and preserving gun rights. Sadly, we have only seen Governor Murphy attack the industry, hunting and lawful gun ownership while ignoring those criminals who are responsible for committing crimes.”
Finally, I reached out to a representative of The National Rifle Association.
“Gov. Murphy has incredible disdain for law-abiding gun owners, and he campaigned on gun control in a state that has some of the harshest gun laws in the country,” said Darin Goens NRA-ILA State Director. He continued:
“Second Amendment supporters were never invited to participate in any of these events because they are not interested in a dialogue. The heavy-handed Governor and his minions simply recycled the same old failed gun control schemes in an echo chamber. They are not interested in ‘gun safety,’ they want gun bans, and they are not bashful about it.”
It’s a fact that the anti-rights, anti-freedom, “anti-gun” crowd receives preferential treatment (explored in“Evidence, Preferential Treatment The Anti-Freedom Lobby Receives From NJ Gov. Murphy”), and those that advocate for responsible & law-abiding gun owners, and Second Amendment civil-liberties get kicked to the curb.
At the June 13, 2018, anti-freedom bill signing event, bringing the bills discussed in the March 2018 announcement into law, Ceasefire New Jersey, Bob Moore, et.al. took every chance to pose with Governor Murphy for photo opportunities commemorating it. Dolores Phillips is seen receiving a commemorative pen from Murphy used to strip New Jersey citizens of their rights.
Dolores, I hope you cherish that pen, it has the blood of Carole Bowne and many other innocent people on it – asA-2758 was signed with it, a bill making the already impossible harder…for those needing protection, to get a carry permit. Dolores, do you think Carole Bowne would still be alive today if she had a firearm with her the night she was violently stabbed to death in a tragic act of knife violence?.
The entire process of these bills becoming law was nicely recorded in a self-produced “Atta Boy” slideshow video that Ceasefire New Jersey has posted online. Take a look at the video as it walks us, the uninitiated, through the process they went through to strip New Jersey citizens of civil rights. They boast about their first meeting on December 20th (2017) occurring and how they “co-led a 12 person delegation of gun violence prevention leaders from across the state, with NJ State Senator Majority Leader Senator Loretta ‘Conficscate-Confiscate-Confiscate' Weinberg…”
Where was ANJRPC? Where was the invite to CNJFO? How about NJ2AS – was your invitation lost in the mail? NRA? Notification MIA! NSSF did not get the MEMO. No one was invited to speak from the groups that are guardians of citizens’ rights.
Take note, in December 2017 the anti-gunners came to the New Jersey Government pushing to take away civil liberties, and by June 2018, all the proposals were signed into law. Six months.
Many in the legislative body of New Jersey have zero fondness towards citizens retaining, having, and or regaining any of their Second Amendment Rights. Phil Murphy openly expresses his contempt towards law-abiding gun owners, and freedom – illustrated further when he quipped the “Bill of Rights is above my pay grade”.
With Democrats in power, the system is stacked against average citizens, and there is a conspiracy of RICO proportions within the Murphy Administration, and even further within the New Jersey Executive, Judicial, and Legislative branches dating back to the 60’s and 70’s. New Jersey’s ruling class, simply put, wants its citizens disarmed. If that is not abundantly clear based on the laws passed and the way law-abiding gun owners are treated or just flat out ignored. It is clear by the simple fact that we have zero representation, no invitations, and no advance notice to any of these important discussions regarding civil liberties – but gun-banner Reverend Bob Moore and his cronies do…
Enjoy your blood-soaked pen Dolores, after all the pen is mightier than the sword!
***List of Advanced Notice Meetings from February 13, 2018, to March 13, 2020:
- “Gun Violence Roundtable” Tuesday, February 13, 2018.
- “Exciting Announcement” on Friday, April 6, 2018, on “gun safety.”
- “Town Hall Meeting” May 2, 2018.
- “Gun Safety Package Signing” on June 13, 2018.
- “Progress Together Meeting” January 23, 2019.
“Gun Violence Roundtable” Tuesday, February 26, 2019, with “Governor, Cabinet, Legislators, & Community Leaders focused on NJ Leadership in community violence intervention programs.”
- “Gun Violence Prevention Roundtable” May 28, 2019. Event co-hosted by Brady Campaign.
- “Town Hall Meeting” June 18, 2019 – which was postponed.
- “Announcement on Gun Safety” September 10, 2019.
- “Town Hall Meeting” September 25, 2019.
- “Gun Violence Intervention” invite, with Gabby Giffords. January 29, 2020.
- “Progress Together Meeting” February 19, 2020.
- “States For Gun Safety Summit” March 13, 2020.
About John Petrolino
John Petrolino is a US Merchant Marine Officer, writer, author of Decoding Firearms: An Easy to Read Guide on General Gun Safety & Use and NRA certified pistol, rifle, and shotgun instructor living under and working to change New Jersey's draconian and unconstitutional gun laws. You can find him on the web at www.johnpetrolino.com on twitter at @johnpetrolino and on instagram @jpetrolinoiii .