N.J. lawmaker: Opposition to banning gun sales to those on terrorist watchlist ‘mind boggling’

    An Assembly committee hearing on proposed gun control measures in New Jersey produced spirited testimony and debate. Even a bill to disqualify an individual on the federal terrorist watchlist from purchasing firearms was controversial.


    Concerns about the possibility of someone wrongly being on the watchlist prompted one member of the Public Safety Committee to vote against the bill and Assemblyman Erik Peterson abstained.

    “The problem is that if your name comes back on it nobody knows how you get to prove that that person who is a terrorist is not you,” said Peterson, R-Hunterdon.

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    Assemblywoman Alison McHose voted against the measure.

    “This bill in my mind brings up memories of the 1950s with Hollywood and the witch hunt that went on with people regarding Communism,” said McHose, R-Sussex. “I think that we have to be strong and provide due process to the residents of the state of New Jersey.”

    The sponsor of the measure, Assemblyman Joe Cryan, was amazed that there was opposition.

    “I’m just flabbergasted that people can vote no or abstain on a bill that prevents folks on a terrorist watchlist from being able to buy firearms,” said Cryan, D-Union. “That’s beyond mind boggling.”

    Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, who says there is a process to clear your name if it appears on the terrorist watchlist by mistake, says Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman.

    “The overarching goal and the protection that this legislation seeks to address is more significant than placing someone at an inconvenience in having to go to Washington and prove who they are and why they shouldn’t be on that list,” said Coleman, D-Mercer.

    Cryan’s bill was one of two dozen gun-control measures under consideration Wednesday by the Assembly committee.

    WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal