Lawrence council takes no position on bills proposing gun control reforms

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While some governing bodies, including the Mercer County Board of Chosen Freeholders, have jumped on the bandwagon to support tougher gun control laws, the Township Council in Lawrence Township has resisted the urge to follow suit.

Not because council members do not believe in gun control, but because they have chosen not to get involved in issues beyond the municipal border.

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Three bills are making their way through the state Legislature in an effort by legislators to make New Jersey’s gun control laws stricter. The bills have been endorsed by the freeholders.

One bill under consideration in the Legislature would ban the possession of ammunition that can pierce body armor.

The second bill would ban firearms magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Police officers are exempt and would be permitted to have firearms magazines that hold 15 rounds of ammunition.

The third bill would regulate the sale or transfer of firearms, requiring it to be done through a licensed retail dealer or a federal arms licensee. A criminal background check would be required, except if the transfer is between immediate family members, law enforcement officers or collectors of antique guns.

Councilman Michael Powers said the local governing body should be concerned with Lawrence Township issues.

“I don’t think (the Legislature) cares” if the council endorses the proposed legislation by adopting a resolution. “It’s a feel-good resolution. Let’s focus on Lawrence Township and make sure our schools are safe,” Powers said.

Councilman Jim Kownacki said New Jersey already has tough gun control laws and said the solution is not more legislation. The answer is to enforce the laws already on the books, he said, adding that “right now, all of this is talk.”

Councilwoman Cathleen Lewis agreed that New Jersey has some of the strictest gun control laws in the United States and said, “I also think, in talking to residents and parents, they would love to see us take a stand. However, this township has a tradition (of not becoming involved in non-municipal issues). It’s a good idea to have these discussions.”

Mayor Christopher Bobbitt advocated taking a wait-and-see approach, noting that the issue of safety in schools is being addressed by hiring a Class III retired police officer to be placed in one of the township’s schools.

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