Vermont’s expanded background check bill out, New Jersey’s debuted

In a case of apparent legislative whack-a-mole, on the same week that Vermont lawmakers moved to throw in the towel on an expanded background check measure, those in the Garden State gave birth to another.

In both cases, the proposals to mandate criminal background checks for virtually all firearms transfers in the respective states, were publicly backed by national gun control groups under former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety umbrella.

“We have a very long view on this,” Gun Sense Vermont co-founder Ann Braden told Seven Days Vermont. “Two years ago, there wasn’t any way any gun provision would be debated. This is a long-term campaign to really change the conversation, so we can pass legislation to keep guns out of the wrong hands.”

Braden’s group bemoaned the apparent roadblock to a Vermont Senate bill, S.31, that was seen as unlikely to pass out of committee Wednesday with its key expanded background check provisions intact.

Gun Sense Vermont had been backed in its quest by the Everytown organization as well as Moms Demand Action who funded studies and controversial reports, as well as helping provide outreach for the campaign.

The Bloomberg group helped win a key victory four months ago with a ballot referendum in Washington State, I-594, which ushered in an expansive background check mandate and has remained steadfast in the face of legislative challenges to it. Since then it has moved to repeat that victory in a Nevada ballot initiative while focusing on legislation in other states.

The group was among the first to herald the introduction to the New Jersey state legislature this week of a bill by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D), S2785, which would require those who want to buy shotguns or rifles to first complete a background check even for private sales.

Weinburg is the author of New Jersey’s controversial smart-gun mandate and has publicly challenged gun rights groups on the issue in recent years.

“As moms dedicated to keeping our children safe from gun violence, we applaud Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg for introducing this common-sense, life-saving background check bill in the New Jersey Legislature,” said Brett Sabo, with the New Jersey chapter of Moms Demand Action in a statement obtained by Guns.com.

“This bill fixes a loophole in current New Jersey law that allows felons, domestic abusers, and other dangerous people to get their hands on rifles and shotguns,” said Sabo. “For those wishing to legally purchase a rifle or shotgun in New Jersey, the process is still convenient – over 99 percent of New Jersey residents live within 10 miles of a licensed gun dealer, where they can get a simple background check and buy a long gun from a private seller.”

The New Jersey bill is expected to be added to the Senate committee calendar in coming days.