MORRISTOWN — Instead of traditional Mother’s Day gifts like jewelry and flowers, those who gathered in front of Town Hall in Morristown this weekend had only one item on their wish list: a reinstatement of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban.
Saturday’s “Mother’s Day of Action” was part of a nationwide movement organized by Moms Demand Action, an offshoot of the nonprofit organization Everytown for Gun Safety, to promote stricter gun control measures in the United States.
“We have a right to live free and happy, to take our families out to public gatherings and not fear if our community is the next to make headlines,” said Nichole Howard, a volunteer with the Moms Demand Action Sussex County chapter. “Congress must know that we demand freedom and safety, or they will find another job.”
The Morristown gun control rally was one of eight that took place in New Jersey on Saturday, according to the Moms Demand Action website. Jersey City and Paterson also hosted demonstrations, along with Pennington, Princeton, Metuchen, Mount Laurel and Camden.
Speakers urged attendees to pressure elected officials to reinstate the assault weapons ban, part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. The ban was lifted when the act expired in 2004, and multiple attempts to renew it in the ensuing years have fallen short.
Tiffany Starr credits the ban with saving the lives of two family members shortly after the act went into effect.
On Dec. 30, 1994, Starr’s father was shot and killed by her sister’s ex-boyfriend, who had broken into the family house. Starr, her mother and her sister were able to escape the home during the struggle.
“What if my dad’s killer had access to that kind of [assault] weapon? Would I be alive today?” Starr said in Morristown on Saturday. “I feel very confident that my mom and my sister would both be dead, because we know he wasn’t done. He was ready to kill again, but he couldn’t because he had to stop and reload his gun.”
While the United States continues to experience mass shootings, including one at a Texas mall last weekend that killed eight people, speakers in Morristown touted New Jersey as a relatively safe state due to its strong gun laws.
U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill noted that New Jersey was one of only two states, along with California, to receive an A rating for gun safety from the Giffords Law Center this year. It is also among the 10 states that prohibit the purchase and possession of assault weapons, said Theresa Piliero, a leader of the Morris County chapter of Moms Demand Action.
Sherrill grew up in a house with guns — her father was a hunter — but never saw an assault weapon until she enlisted in the U.S. Navy.
“These are weapons of war, designed to kill as many people as possible in as short a time as possible,” she said. “There is simply no reason they should ever be on the streets in civilian hands.”
“Our government has done it before, and they can do it again,” Howard said. “We can’t accept no for an answer; the stakes are far too high.”
POSTED ON: May 31, 2023