A Barry Lakes resident approached the Vernon Township Council on Jan. 27 asking the council to consider a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary resolution, sparking a debate.
"I am of the opinion that the current administration in Trenton has infringed on my rights,” said Jessica Benedetto, who proposed the resolution to the council. “This resolution's intention is to inform Trenton that law-abiding firearms owners in New Jersey are under constitutional attack.”
The resolution objects to red flag laws, which allow judges to authorize police to confiscate a person’s firearms if the judge determines that person poses a significant risk to himself or others.
"Red flags are not in the interest of public safety,” said R.J. Bermudez. “They're about gutting due process and making law abiding people like myself criminals overnight."
Benedetto said the resolution does not make anyone immune from any past or present gun laws.
Township resident Bob Kirchmer objected to the resolution, saying it puts gun owners above the safety of fellow residents.
"Our residents must take preference,” Kirchmer said. “With all the public land in Vernon. With all the hunting that we do and all the shooting we do at a very well regulated place like Cherry Ridge. Why would we not want to have reasonable gun control laws? Why wouldn't we want reasonable gun safety legislation?"
Anthony Rossi of Vernon, a member of the National Rifle Association said there are over 500 signatures in Vernon petitioning for a Second Amendment sanctuary resolution.
said the country needs to put partisan bickering aside and stay true to the constitution.
“Mr. Mayor, you ran a campaign on a nonpartisan office,” he said. “This will be your test.”
Rossi said he was told by Council President Harry Shortway that he was doing his due diligence.
Shortway said the resolution will not be brought up at the next meeting.
“You sat here for how many hours, we have a lot going on,” he said. “I am a gun owner. I had my shotgun when I was 10 years and I still have it. That was 53 years ago. I believe if I want to buy an AR-15 with a 15 mag, I can buy that.”
Shortway said there is no need for the accessories that other places allow and as a former police officer, he said he is most sensitive to the issue of death by suicide. He said he sees the issue from both ends.
“Perhaps that person owned a gun, had tell-tale signs that they had distress and guess who got the call to go look at what was left and got to sit with that body until the ME arrived. I appreciate the 2nd Amendment like I do the first and I’m going to be very careful with it.”
Shortway invited the council to discuss the issue when it is eventually brought to council.”