On Monday, just two days after large numbers of New Jerseyans marched for action on gun violence, the state Assembly approved six measures to make New Jersey’s already strict gun laws even stricter. And some of the Yes votes came the Assembly representatives for the 26th district, which includes Verona, legislators who have in the past gotten high marks from the NRA for their gun rights voting.
Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-NJ26) voted Yes on three of the six bills, while Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (R-NJ26) voted yes on two of the six. The measures, which must still pass the state Senate, include so-called red flag laws to restrict gun sales to people whose mental state could make gun ownership a risk to themselves or others, background checks for private gun sales, a ban on owning armor-piercing ammunition and a reduction in the maximum capacity of ammunition magazines to 10 rounds.
The six bills approved Monday and the votes by Verona’s reps, were:
- A1217, Extreme Risk Protective Order Act of 2018, which would create restraining orders in the state allowing family members and others to ask a judge to have a person’s guns seized and ban them from buying weapons for up to a year. Webber YES, DeCroce NO
- A1181, which requires firearms seizure when certain health care professional determines patient poses threat of harm to self or others which would mandate law enforcement in the state to seize a person’s guns if a mental health professional determines they pose a threat to themselves or others. Webber ABSTAIN, DeCroce: NO
- A2758, which codifies regulations defining justifiable need to carry handgun to strictly define that state residents need to show a “justifiable need” to obtain a permit to carry a handgun. Webber NO, DeCroce: NO
- A2757, which would require all private gun sales in the state to go through a licensed dealer who can perform an additional background check at the point of sale. Webber YES, DeCroce YES
- A2759, which prohibits possession of armor piercing ammunition. Webber YES, DeCroce YES
- A2761, which reduces maximum capacity of ammunition magazines to 10 rounds. Firearms with .22 caliber tubular magazines are exempt from the 10 round limitation. Webber NO, DeCroce NO
Verona resident Rita Mughetto went to Trenton to witness the vote with Moms Demand Action, a group that advocates for common-sense gun law reforms. “Joining Moms Demand Action was a natural fit for me as it balanced my desire to seek sensible gun reform while respecting the Second Amendment,” she says. “Having lived in another country, England, for a few years I personally experienced a civilized solution to civilian versus law enforcement/military class of guns. I believe this model is applicable to the USA and eventually would love to see Federal legislation supporting such a change. New Jersey has been a leader in gun reform, but we need other states to follow.”
Webber, who is running to be the Republican candidate in the race to succeed Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen in the 11th federal district, did not return a call to comment placed to his office about his votes on the gun law changes. Prior to announcing his candidacy for the federal seat, he often used his Twitter feed to voice support for the Second Amendment. He has posted nothing about his gun votes on Twitter.
The Assembly’s six bills have yet been posted for a vote in the New Jersey state Senate. Gov. Phil Murphy has pledged to sign them when they are approved.
Gun reform wasn’t the only thing on the Assembly’s agenda. Webber was also one of only two No votes on a bill to guarantee women in New Jersey equal pay for equal work, giving New Jersey the strongest equal pay law in the country. “Equal pay for equal work is the law of the land,” the assemblyman told InsiderNJ. “This bill is going to hurt women. I’m the grandson of two working moms, the husband of a Harvard-educated lawyer and the father of four daughters. I welcome a discussion as to the priorities of women in the work force. This bill does not advance those interests. It’s counter-productive.”
DeCroce was swift to condemn Webber’s vote. “The fact that Assemblyman Webber cannot publicly recognize and support the concept that women are entitled to be paid equally to their male counterparts is disappointing,” she told InsiderNJ. “I want to assure everyone that Assemblyman Webber’s position does not represent the values of our state or our Republican Party. I’m not sure Assemblyman Webber recognizes the fact that times have changed in America and that the Republican Party stands for equal treatment of women in the workplace.”