Before the matter in New Jersey is addressed, one should note that in observing the gun control debate unfold since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, there are at least two big characterizations an objective bystander could make about the majority of pro-gun control lawmakers:
(A) They are incredibly ignorant on the issue, particularly as it relates to firearms, firearm-related accessories and the inefficacy of gun control. One can easily recall an array of occasions when a pro-gun control politician looked like a complete idiot when talking about guns.
For example, who could forget Vice President Joe Biden’s “Get a shotgun” comment or Congresswoman Diana DeGette’s theory on how banning standard-capacity magazines would work over time.
“I will tell you these are ammunition, they’re bullets, so the people who have those now they’re going to shoot them, so if you ban them in the future, the number of these high capacity magazines is going to decrease dramatically over time because the bullets will have been shot and there won’t be any more available,” explained Rep. DeGette (D-CO) at a Denver Post forum on gun control in April.
DeGette was one of the lead sponsors of a federal bill that would have banned magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
(B) The other characterization one could make is that despite their ignorance on the issue, pro-gun control politicians will resort to Machiavellian tactics to ensure that flawed, and often arbitrary and inane, gun bills get passed into law. Perhaps ironically, they are wholeheartedly committed to passing legislation to ban a tool they know very little about.
Case in point, the passage of the New York SAFE Act, which was rammed through the state Legislature by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo who waived the mandatory three-day review period between the introduction of the bill and a vote, so that legislators were under the gun and had little, if any, time to review the law.
“The so-called SAFE act was a mistake,” New York Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore) admitted in hindsight, after voting in favor of the bill. “Its passage lacked transparency and public input and its wording was ill-conceived and of questionable legality.”
“Lawmakers like myself might have caught these mistakes if we were given more than two hours to read the bill,” added Boyle, who’s now in favor of repealing the onerous provisions of the NY SAFE Act.
So, it’s with this latter point in mind that one should examine what happened in the New Jersey General Assembly last week, where it appears Garden State lawmakers did their own rule breaking to ensure that their gun control agenda stayed alive.
See, while the New Jersey Assembly Law & Public Safety Committee was doing a roll call vote on Assembly Bill 4182, a 40-page draconian gun control package recently approved by the state Senate (aka SB 2723), it became clear that the bill would not garner enough votes to pass on to the next stage of the legislative process. Instead of following through with the vote per Page 19, Section 12.3 of the NJ General Assembly Rules, which states, “After a roll call vote has commenced, no motion is in order until the results are announced by the Speaker,” lawmakers stopped half way through the vote, opting to set aside the measure so that it wouldn’t fall by the wayside and so that it could be resurrected at a future date in front of a different committee; naturally, one that is more likely to approve the package.
In short, the numbers weren’t there so lawmakers broke the rules to get what they wanted, another vote and a chance to stack the deck the next time around.
Here is a version of the transcript from the committee hearing, courtesy of Guns Save Lives:
“There won’t be 5 votes. We need 7.
You told members of the committee we need 7 votes”
“We still won’t have it.
We still don’t have it.”
“kay, we’re gonna move on to the next bill. You wanna do the same one…”
“…are you tabling that bill?”
“We are taking a break from that bill.”
“We’ll take a break from that bill.”
“Next bill that we’re gonna consider will be, um…Assembly bill 4181…and…”
“(unintelligible) point of order…can we go onto another bill while there’s no authority on another?
“What we’re asking to do is we’re just checking the language on one bill…just checking and we’re gonna come right back to it…just make sure we’re correct, because of the amendment”
“(unintelligible) but you haven’t called the roll yet”
“I don’t…no, you don’t have to, no…”
“Ah, based on what I was informed, we didn’t have to…”
“I don’t know how you start to…”
“Well, we’re gonna come right back to the bill…”
“…I think it’s a point of order that I think you have to finish,once you call the roll, you have to finish…the vote…”
“…I don’t know that that’s, I don’t know that that’s a committee rule…I think that Chairman has the discretion”
“…before you move onto other business”
“I understand what you’re saying, but since I’m not…uh, based on the information that I received, and that’s not a committee rule, we’re going to just move onto the next bill and we’ll come right back to that bill…we will vote on that bill completely today”
“I understand what you want to do, but I’m not sure you can do it…you, you have to…once you call the roll, you gotta finish it…you could’ve…before you had it, once before you started to first and second it, you could’ve moved onto another bill and come back, but once you do that, I think you have to take all the votes and then move on to the next business. I don’t think you can stop in the middle of taking votes…”
“Until we find out for sure, what we’re going to do is we’re going to move on, Assemblyman. Thank you.”
“Mr. Chairman, why don’t you take a motion to (unintelligible)”
“we’re going to look into that…”
“…you can make a motion to take a short recess during a meeting (something “business”)…”
“You wanna do that?”
“What we’ll do is how about we make a motion to take a short recess and we’ll find out for sure what we…the best way to do it…will that suffice with you…that be alright?”
“Can I get a motion?”
“On a motion to recess…Assemblyman Rigal…”
“We’re motioning to take a recess”
“again, how do you order a recess, Mr. Chairman? You can’t take another motion while another motion is pending”
“ok, we gonna take a recess. Ok? Ok. We gonna take a recess”
After looking at the amendments, and seeing that they were very unclear to myself and a couple other members, I’m gonna ask that we hold this bill and have a chance to speak to the sponsor to make a good bill better, so we’re gonna be holding bill A4182, and we’re not going to move further on the Senate version of the same bill. So we will be holding that bill today.”
Should one be surprised by this legislative underhandedness in New Jersey’s General Assembly?
Nope. Not at all. As mentioned, when it comes to pro-gun control lawmakers, this type of behavior is par for the course and hews to the overall modus operandi of ensuring the passage of gun control by any means necessary.
Also, and as a side note, it was their peers in the New Jersey state Senate who were caught on a microphone a few weeks ago, chanting, “confiscate, confiscate, confiscate.”
As the gun control debate continues to rage on gun owners need to continue to be vigilant. More importantly, gun owners need to hold their lawmakers and local represenatives accountable. One can argue that the only reason why this kind of stuff happens is because we let it.