New Jersey Senate President Announces Change of Heart on Gun Law — But…

Months after he blocked state senators from bringing forward a gun control bill that would place additional limits on magazine capacities, New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney, a Democrat, said he’s changed his mind.

TRENTON, NJ - JANUARY 14: Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker-elect Vincent Prieto (L) call the chamber to order before New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivers the State of the State Address on January 14, 2014 in the Assembly Chambers at the Statehouse in Trenton, New Jersey. In his speech Christie briefly addressed the ongoing George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal saying his administration 'let down the people we are entrusted to serve' but also called for a longer school day for New Jersey students, and hinted that he will push for another round of pension reform. Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker-elect Vincent Prieto, left, call the chamber to order before New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delivers the State of the State Address on Jan. 14, 2014 in the Assembly Chambers at the Statehouse in Trenton, New Jersey (Getty Images)

In April 2013, when the New Jersey Senate was moving at a breakneck pace to enact strict gun control laws, Sweeney said the state’s current limit of 15 rounds was “effective,” stifling efforts to restrict ammunition capacity down to 10 rounds.

But new efforts have been brought forward and Sweeney announced his support during a press conference Monday.

The parents of two children murdered in the 2012 shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., were on hand during the conference to offer their support for the new restriction, reported.

“I’m very much pro-sportsmen,” Sweeney said. “But when you look in the eyes of the parents that I did … I’m a father. There’s no excuse, there’s no reason. You have to look deep inside yourself as elected officials. Will this make it better? Yes. I’m a human being too and when you talk to families of victims, it’s pretty hard when you weigh it out – inconvenience to a life?  It wasn’t that hard.”

Nicole Hockley, whose 6-year old son was killed at Sandy Hook, said, “In Newtown we learned the brutal truth about the devastation that a high capacity magazine can cause.”

“The person that killed my son carried 10, 30-round, large capacity magazines into Sandy Hook Elementary School. Three hundred rounds. He chose to leave the smaller capacity magazines at home. He chose to have the best kill rate possible by using high capacity magazines, which only exist to deliver as many bullets as possible in the shortest time frame. In approximately four minutes he shot 154 bullets and killed 26 women and children. Five of those bullets hit my son and in an instant my precious boy was gone,” she said. “But in the time it took the shooter to reload … in Dylan’s classroom, 11 children had the opportunity to escape.”

She said that there may have been fewer deaths if the shooter, Adam Lanza, had to stop to reload more times.

“How man more children would still be alive, from both classrooms,” she said.  “Perhaps my son would still be alive.”

Mark Barden, who lost his son Daniel, held up a photo of his son during the press conference and threw his support behind the magazine restrictions.

He argued that dropping the limit would not hinder responsible gun owners. Rather, he insisted, it could help prevent future mass shootings like the one on Connecticut.

“This is a common sense measure that’s above politics,” he said.  “It’s about safety.”

But not everyone feels this way.

“Criminals and madmen ignore all gun restrictions, so the only thing this will accomplish is to interfere with lawful self-defense,” said Scott Bach of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs. “The state should not force a family facing a gang home invasion to fumble around in the dark changing magazines — they should be free to have as much ammunition as possible at the ready. This proposal fails to make the basic distinction between legal gun owners and criminals who misuse firearms, and will cost lives.”

The new proposal to limit magazine capacity in New Jersey is expected to pass this year, according to It’s uncertain whether Republican Gov. Chris Christie will sign it into law.

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