Several dozen activists came to Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen’s Morristown office on Friday to deliver a petition seeking his support for stricter gun controls in the wake of the Newtown, CT., massacre of schoolchildren and teachers.
“We’re not here to antagonize him,” said event organizer Kim Hurdman of the Morris County chapter of Organizing for Action, a nonprofit spun off from President Obama’s re-election campaign. “We want to have a dialogue with him.”
Across the country, more than 100 activities were scheduled as a “Day of Action” by the national group.
A petition bearing nearly 4,700 signatures from constituents in Rodney Frelinghuysen’s 11th congressional district was presented to the congressman’s office on Schuyler Place.
The signatures were culled from SignOn.org, which has gathered more than 472,000 signatures nationwide from people demanding stricter curbs on guns in the aftermath of the shootings that left 26 dead at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School in December.
The Republican congressman was not at his office on Friday. When asked his stance on H.R. 137, a bill that would mandate universal background checks for gun buyers, Rep. Frelinghuysen responded through a spokesman:
“I have been pleased to receive petitions from groups that seek a range of new gun control measures and groups and individuals who believe additional laws are unnecessary or unwise,” the congressman said in a statement.
“The President has put forward a broad agenda which has prompted a wide-ranging discussion. Diminishing violence is a goal everyone can support and I look forward to participating in the debate when specific proposals come before the House.”
About 50 people–many wearing signs with names of the Newtown victims–turned out in frigid weather on Friday to deliver the petition. The New Jersey Million Mom March, MoveOn.org, the National Organization for Women and Blue Wave were among the groups represented.
New York activist Staci Sarkin started the online petition drive. It states:
Our second amendment rights are long overdue a reevaluation. How many more senseless and entirely PREVENTABLE shootings have to occur before we do something about Gun Control.
As a citizen and constituent of this great country, I am asking that you take a firm stand and make a positive change by restricting access to guns and saving lives.
I don’t have a gun. I don’t want a gun. I don’t need a gun. But somehow the guns always wind up in the hands of people crazy enough to use them irresponsibly and dangerously. This HAS TO BE STOPPED.
Thank you for your action!!
On the petition website, Staci adds that “it’s easier to go to a gun show and pick up a firearm than it is to go to the local pharmacy and buy cold medication. Acquiring and owning a gun should be at least as controlled as getting a learner’s permit, license and privilege to drive a car.”
Two days earlier, organizers of last week’s anti-gun-violence rally on the Morristown Green delivered Valentines from that event, along with 135 letters, to the Congressman’s office. “Have a heart, take a stand,” read one of the messages.
“I think he’s willing to listen on universal background checks,” said Carole Stiller, president of the New Jersey Million Mom March Chapters. “I have a feeling both sides will agree on that.”
This week the state Assembly approved 22 bills that aim to reduce gun violence. Whether they will clear the state Senate and receive Gov. Chris Christie’s signature remains to be seen.
Organizing for Action plans to gather on Saturday, Feb. 23, at 11 am to make phone calls for their cause. Offices of other congressmen across the state have been visited already. The activists support President Obama’s plan to ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, among other measures.
Litsa Binder came to Morristown on behalf of the Sparta United Methodist Church, in Sussex County.
“I feel this is a very important issue, a common-sense issue,” she said. “I came for my children and grandchildren, and everyone else’s.”