U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12) today hosted mayors, law enforcement officers, and advocates from throughout Central New Jersey at the Old Bridge Township Municipal Building for a roundtable discussion on preventing gun violence in communities and schools.
Also in attendance were two New Jerseyans who had lost a child to gun violence. Maria LoBrutto's 18-year-old daughter, Cristina LoBrutto, died in a shooting at the Pathmark in Old Bridge on August 31, 2012. Harry Pryde's 23-year-old daughter, Julia Pryde, died in a mass shooting at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007.
"Every day that Congress fails to act to rein in gun violence, 80 more people die by gunfire -- whether from homicide, suicide, or accident," Holt said. "The tragedy at Sandy Hook showed in horrific terms that we have waited far too long to address gun safety. That's why I am trying to make New Jersey's laws the starting point for the entire nation. We must prevent New Jersey's high standards for gun owners from being undermined by lax laws in other states."
Roundtable participants shared their experiences with gun violence prevention and offered ideas for policy changes at the state and national levels that could further rein in gun violence.
"Requiring comprehensive and enforceable background checks for all gun sales is a commonsense measure that will help save lives and protect our communities," said Francis "Mac" Womack, the mayor of North Brunswick and a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. "The overwhelming majority of Americans want these checks -- so what's Congress waiting for? We need our elected officials in Washington to stand with the people they represent and pass sensible gun reform that will keep New Jersey safe."
Since the massacre at Sandy Hook brought renewed national attention to gun violence prevention, at least 2,200 people have died by gunfire in homicides and accidental deaths, according to an analysis by the Huffington Post. The analysis did not consider suicides, which account for about 60 percent of all gun-related deaths.
Holt has introduced legislation to rein in gun violence by bringing New Jersey's firearm registration laws to the rest of the country, and he has participated actively in the work of the Congressional Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. Holt also has supported the President's wide-ranging proposals for reforms to reduce gun violence, including closing background check loopholes to keep guns out of dangerous hands, banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, making schools safer, and increasing access to mental health services.
Other participants in the roundtable included Owen Henry, the mayor of Old Bridge; Ralph Froelich, the Union County sheriff; Eugene Rickle, a South Brunswick school resource officer; Jason Lester, assistance principal at North Brunswick High School; Marcia Marley, the president of BlueWaveNJ; and Carole Stiller, a representative of the Million Mom March.