Newtown families have high hopes for N.J. gun ammo bill

TRENTON The New Jersey State Assembly passed a bill to limit the number of rounds in a gun magazine to 10, down from the 15 rounds that magazines can currently hold.

The bill passed 44 - 34 and will now go to Gov. Chris Christie for his consideration.

Mark Barden, who lost his 7-year-old son Daniel in the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, was present for the vote. Barden, his niece, Lauren O'Neill, and Neil Heslin traveled to Trenton to back the bill. Heslin's 6-year-old son, Jesse Lewis, was also killed in the shooting.

"We would like to say from the bottom of our hearts, thank you to New Jersey," Barden said in a press conference alongside Majority Leader Louis Greenwald, one of the bill's sponsors, after the vote.

Barden and other family members advocating for bans on larger capacity magazines believe the limits can prevent mass casualties, while also protecting Second Amendment rights.

"The sad reality is that mass shootings happen," he said. "In just about each and every one, when the shooter stops to reload, it's an opportunity for someone to intervene and stop him or for lives to be saved when people could run away."

The bill, if signed into law, would give gun owners with higher capacity magazines 180 days to exchange or retrofit them to remain within the law.

Still, some who oppose the bill have said that the change would make it difficult for gun owners who abide by the law to protect themselves from those who skirt it.

Barden was confident that Christie would sign the bill into law.

"Gov. Christie is a fair and genuine man," he said. "He is a father. He knows that his state wants this."

Barden said working to pass this legislation helps him work through his grief.

"The loss of our son is absolutely profound and constant," he said. "Being able to hopefully prevent another family from living through this helps me get through the day."

  • Hannah Fraser-Chanpong

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