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N.J. congressmen have pivotal role in gun bill

Bishops Mark Beckwith and William Stokes
Bishop Mark Beckwith and Bishop William Stokes

[The Star-Ledger] As the country prepares to observe Saturday’s first anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., New Jersey is poised to play what we hope will be a salutary role in thus far fruitless efforts to pass legislation that would help keep guns out of the hands of those who are not allowed to own them.

More than 100 New Jersey mayors are members of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group formed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to curb gun violence by diminishing the flow of illegal firearms.

Both of our state’s U.S. senators are on record supporting the Manchin-Toomey bill — which would make gun trafficking a federal crime and would expand background checks to cover sales at gun shows and on the internet — and four members of New Jersey’s delegation to the House of Representatives are in a position to play a key role in the passage of the King-Thompson bill, the House version of the Manchin-Toomey legislation.

Proponents of King-Thompson believe the votes of Reps. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11th Dist.), Leonard Lance (R-7th), John Runyan (R-3rd) and Chris Smith (R-4th) may be essential to passing legislation that will help keep guns out of the wrong hands.

As the bishops of the two Episcopal dioceses in New Jersey, we pray that the political leaders in our state can help break a partisan deadlock that has lethal consequences.