A coalition of over 30 mayors sent a message to Gov. Chris Christie Thursday pushing for "common sense national gun laws," according to a statement released by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns and the Morris Area Committee to Reduce Gun Violence.
The mayors' letter highlighted loopholes in the country's background check system for gun ownership and asked Christie to support H.R. 137, a bill currently in the House of Representatives called the Fix Gun Checks Act which, if it passes, will close the gaps.
About 6.6 million guns are privately sold or transferred in the U.S. every year with no background check required.
The letter also points out that almost 80 percent of guns used in crimes in New Jersey were originally purchased in other states. "In 2011, for example, 170 crime guns came from Virginia, 145 from Georgia, and 104 from Florida. Unlike New Jersey, these states do not require background checks for the private gun sales that proliferate on the Internet and at gun shows," the letter reads in part.
Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty said Christie could be influential in getting Congress members from New Jersey to vote for the bill. "We need him to stand up for common-sense national gun laws that will save lives in our state,” he said.
The news came only hours before an anti-gun violence rally and vigil will take place on the Morristown Green at 5 p.m.
Like the mayors' letter, the rally is to encourage common sense gun laws at the local, state and federal levels in order to reduce gun violence.
The Rev. Alison Miller of the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, who was a victim of gun violence when she was only 4 years old, will speak at the rally, as well Pastor Sidney Williams, a member of the Morris Area Clergy Council, and a pediatric ER doctor from Atlantic Health.
Also expected to speak is Rabbi Menache East of the Mount Freedom Jewish Center in Randolph.
“Human life in the Jewish tradition is the most treasured, most sacred of all values. God gave us life and, in turn, we are this world’s and our body’s stewards. When disease threatens the body, we employ every device and every medical advancement to preserve life," he said. "The proliferation of guns and the ease of access to maximum damage firepower is a disease that threatens the body. As a rabbi and as a parent, I urge people of good will, people committed to morality and civic responsibility and people of faith in the God who loves life, to demand for Gun violence to be curbed by demanding more thorough background checks and demanding federal regulation to minimize the potential to inflict mortal wounds with guns."
The rally will take place on the Morristown Green at 5 p.m., Feb. 14. Participants are encouraged to bring their own candles, flashlights and/or glow sticks.