A New Jersey bill that could serve as a nationwide model for gun control is hitting a legislative wall -- and not because of a traditional partisan battle, but because of infighting between, believe it or not, two Democrats. And that conflict played out when the measure went to a recent committee vote.
The bill (S2723) would overhaul the state's current system by encoding firearms' IDs on driver’s licenses, creating a system for instant background checks, and requiring gun buyers to show proof they’ve gone through firearms training.
And there's a twist: Objections have been raised about how the vote on the measure was handled in committee, specifically that actions to suspend the vote rather than complete it (which would have seen the measure fail) violated Assembly rules.
The author of the bill, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, a Democrat, calls the legislation a "national model," says NJ.com. And while it passed the state Senate, a political adversary of Sweeney's stood in its way -- Assemblyman Joseph Cryan (D-Union), who abstained from voting on the measure in the Assembly's Law and Public Safety committee.
Cryan’s lack of support was critical, leaving the bill without enough votes to advance.
Apparently seeing the fallout ahead, the committee’s chairman -- Charles Mainor (D-Hudson) -- stopped the vote and called a recess, briefly conferring with abstainer Cryan. When the committee resumed, the intention was to move to another bill.
But another member of the committee objected, saying rules prohibited stopping the vote.
Here's the language from Assembly rules:
“It didn’t have the votes,” Cryan said after the meeting. “I abstained based on cost concerns...I along with many other thousands of New Jerseyans have lost a motor vehicle office in our district. We had some real cost concerns about the bill.”
Yesterday the bill was transferred to the Assembly Budget Committee, according the Assembly's Web site.
As it turns out, Cryan and Sweeney also are tangling over who should be the next state Democratic chairman. In addition, Cryan is a proponent of reducing the allowed capacity of ammunition magazines from 15 to 10. Although a bill to make that happen was passed by the Assembly, Sweeney has refused to advance it in the upper house.
Here's a clip before and after the vote was taken, starting about the 1-minute mark, via YouTube; it's preceded by text outlining what's at stake: