In Brief

Protesters demand state Senate president advance gun bills

By: - June 14, 2022 6:53 pm

Protesters rally outside Senate President Nicholas Scutari’s Clark office on June 14, 2022, in support of new gun control measures supported by Gov. Phil Murphy. (Sophie Nieto-Muñoz | New Jersey Monitor)

About a dozen moms and children protested near Senate President Nicholas Scutari’s office in Clark Tuesday demanding the senate leader support the new push for Gov. Phil Murphy’s package of gun control bills.

Though New Jersey is already home to some of the nation’s strictest gun laws, the protesters, dressed in red “Moms Demand Action” shirts and holding posters displaying gun violence statistics, said Scutari is holding up the bills intended to strengthen them.

“110 Americans die each day by gun violence and it’s the leading cause of death for kids and teens in the country,” said Jenifer Berrier Gonzalez, who led the rally. “People are scared every day to go to supermarkets, movies, schools. I don’t want my kids growing up scared.”

They say Murphy’s bills would make New Jersey home to the strongest gun laws in the nation. The Democratic governor’s proposal includes banning .50 caliber firearms, requiring gun safety classes for anyone seeking gun permits, setting safe storage standards, and mandating manufacturers and dealers of ammunition keep a detailed record of sales to be shared with the New Jersey State Police.

Scutari (D-Union) has not specifically backed the latest gun package, but said last month he’d “keep an open mind.”

One measure (A1765) advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday, with Scutari voting yes along with six other Democrats. It would expand liability for gun manufacturers and allow the state attorney general to pursue civil action against gun manufacturers.

A spokesman for Scutari did not respond to a request for comment. He was not in his Clark office during the protest, and no one answered when a volunteer knocked on the door.

Protester Jeanne Stifelman said it was important to come to Clark to send a message to the community. She said she also came in memory of her friend’s daughter, Miya, who was gunned down as she left a Rhode Island bar after a celebration.

“It happens in every state in the country. It’s completely unacceptable that in a developed country like this, we have people walking around with automatic weapons shooting at people, spraying bullets, killing indiscriminately,” said Stifelman, a Randolph native.

Stifelman is a school board member but stressed she attended the protest as a private citizen.

Clark police briefly came to the protest — one officer said the building manager called them — but allowed the small rally to continue.

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Sophie Nieto-Munoz
Sophie Nieto-Munoz

Sophie Nieto-Muñoz, a New Jersey native and former Trenton statehouse reporter for, shined a spotlight on the state’s crumbling unemployment system and won several awards for investigative reporting from the New Jersey Press Association. She was a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists for her report on PetSmart's grooming practices, which was also recognized by the New York Press Club. Sophie speaks Spanish and is proud to connect to the Latinx community through her reporting.