Via the Star-Ledger:
TRENTON — As a committee hearing on new gun-control legislation began winding down Thursday, three state senators started chatting amongst themselves.
What they didn’t realize was the microphone was still on.
A recording of the exchange — which appears to be between Democrats Loretta Weinberg, Sandra Cunningham and Linda Greenstein — ended up on YouTube, and gun supporters said today they were upset by the remarks.
The recording opens with what sounds like a senator or staff member saying, “We needed a bill that was going to confiscate, confiscate, confiscate” — although it is not clear who is speaking or if this is what she is saying.
“They want to keep the guns out of the hands of the bad guys, but they don’t have any regulations to do it,” Weinberg then says, more audibly.
One of the senators, who sounds like Cunningham, responds: “They don’t care about the bad guys. All they want to do is have their little guns and do whatever they want with them.”
“That’s the line they’ve developed,” another, who sounds like Greenstein, says.
Scott Bach, the president of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, said the remarks, unwittingly captured by the live microphone, revealed “the true agenda of gun-ban extremists” in the state Senate.
“We’re outraged by it,” Bach said. “The recording speaks for itself.”
He said the excerpt came from a recording of the meeting that is available on the state Legislature website, adding that someone captured it and posted it on YouTube.
Weinberg (D-Bergen) said today she does not know who said the word “confiscate.”
“What I have talked about is the pro-gun people have constantly said they want bills to keep guns out of the hands of bad guys,” she said. “And that’s what these bills do as best you can.”
Cunningham (D-Hudson) and Greenstein (D-Middlesex) could not be reached for comment today.
The state Senate is scheduled to vote on 15 measures Monday that are included in a package of legislation introduced by Democrats aimed at curbing gun violence in the wake of the shootings deaths of 20 first-graders in Newtown, Conn., in December.
In recent weeks, some have criticized the Senate measures for not being a stringent as ones introduced by the state Assembly earlier this year.
But Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) worked out a compromise with gun-control advocates on Thursday to make the package closer to the Assembly’s version — with the help of Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Camden).
“What we’ve actually accomplished here is what Washington wasn’t able to do,” Sweeney said. “I strongly feel we are now the national model.”
At Thursday’s hearing, Bach testified that the proposed new gun laws would punish law-abiding gun owners in New Jersey while criminals would still be able to obtain guns illegally.
Bach — who is also a board member of the National Rifle Association — said “the really troubling aspect” is that “these extremists are the people the Senate president is listening to right now.”
“It needs to be understood that this is an extremist agenda that should not be moving,” he said.