TOMS RIVER – A relatively civil discussion on gun control played out at a recent Township Council meeting, as a 2nd Amendment group urged the governing body to pass a resolution against what they call restrictive gun laws.
Several members of the 2nd Amendment Sanctuary spoke about how several laws, such as “red flag” laws are unconstitutional and infringe upon their rights. They have been going from one town to another, asking governing bodies to support their movement. Governing bodies in Lacey, Jackson, and the Ocean County Freeholders were among those that passed resolutions supporting them.
The meeting in Toms River might have been the first to have members of Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America in attendance and giving counterpoint.
The discussion was mostly civil, with just one instance of people shouting out from the crowd. Council President Maria Maruca, who was running the meeting, at one point urged two people who were arguing to “agree to disagree.”
Ronald Rybicki, a former law enforcement officer, did most of the talking for the 2nd Amendment group. He hoped that by election day, 70 percent of towns in New Jersey will support the 2nd Amendment. He said he understood that passing a resolution doesn’t change the law, he just wants to see nonpartisan support for legal gun owners who feel they are being persecuted against and put in a bad light by the media.
“We’re not criminals,” said Artis Cohen, a member of the 2nd Amendment group. “We’re not evil.”
One of their main concerns was the “red flag” laws that allow residents to file a complaint against a gun owner saying that they are dangerous. This can lead them to have their guns taken away. The 2nd Amendment group said that there is no due process, and that innocent people can have their property taken away just on one person’s claim.
Councilman Daniel Rodrick, supporting the group, asked what laws there are that can take someone’s property away just on the basis of an accusation.
He asked if someone were to claim that their neighbor is likely to drive drunk, would the police be allowed to take their car away?
Councilman Terrance Turnbach, a criminal defense attorney, explained that there is due process and that no one’s guns get taken away without reason.
“The public needs to know. It’s not a phone call” that takes away a gun, he said. The phone call goes to the police, and then the claim is reviewed by police. If the police determine that the person is a danger to themselves or others, then a Superior Court Judge has to allow them to take the guns away. “You’re a legal gun owner. No one’s ever going to be able to make a call and have someone take your guns.”
Councilwoman Laurie Huryk said “I do support 2nd Amendment rights…but also support keeping the 6th safest state in the nation safe because of those laws.”
Some people obtain guns legally and then something happens in their lives and they become a danger to themselves or others, she said. “One of the most common causes of gun deaths is suicide.”
Rybicki said he’s not a constitutional expert so he wasn’t able to argue these points. He has, however, seen cases when he was a police officer, when someone tipped them off to a house that had 50 kilos of cocaine and they kick open the door, put the handcuffs on someone, and find nothing.