In the wake of the mass shooting at a New Jersey Arts festival in which one person was killed and 22 left injured, Governor Phil Murphy has predictably called for a raft of new gun control measures. Yet once again, the elected Democrats in this country are ignoring the fact that gun legislation would have done absolutely nothing to prevent this horrendous crime.
One of the shooters, Tahaji Wells, 33, now dead, was a convicted criminal who gained early release from an 18-year sentence for aggravated manslaughter and is suspected to be a member of a well-known gang. Wells was released early under a program that was supposed to cut “unfair sentences,” a program that Murphy firmly supports.
Whilst serving time in prison, Wells received a further sentence of six years for racketeering as he was found guilty of helping David “Duke” Allen, the leader of the Bloods’ Nine Trey Gangsters faction, run his gang from behind bars.
A second suspect, Amir Armstrong, 23, was already facing a weapons charge.
As a convicted felon, Wells was not legally allowed to own a gun. Therefore, any new laws or regulations that impact legal gun ownership would not have prevented the incident. It is all too common for those on the left to call for the destruction of the Second Amendment without acknowledging that the laws they seek to impose would not have changed a thing. Criminals DO NOT follow laws.
After a service at Trenton’s Galilee Baptist Church, the governor said, “It’s yet another reminder of the senseless gun violence, even having signed six stringent gun laws last week.” Six gun laws! And they didn’t stop this shooting? The question Murphy needs to face is whether any amount of gun laws would have prevented this. The answer is a clear “no.” Yet there are laws in place that could have.
If Wells had been made to serve the remainder of his time instead of being given early release, this would not have happened.
When Murphy (Obama’s former ambassador to Germany and an ex-Goldman Sachs banker) took office, he resurrected the Criminal Sentencing and Disposition Commission. Started in 2009, the commission was a lame duck that had no appointed members until Governor Murphy got behind it. Murphy said of the commission:
“A Criminal Sentencing and Disposition Commission can undertake the important review of our sentencing laws and recommend reforms necessary to ensure a stronger, fairer and more just state.”
The role of the group was, partly, to review the “harshness” of sentences, with a view to releasing prisoners earlier.
Not only has Murphy worked to get felons released early, he also made a promise to help rehabilitate prisoners and give them better pathways into life outside prison. In what should have been a positive move, he planned to “expand re-entry services so that the people coming out of prison have the support they need to return to productive lives.” Perhaps this would have been enough to stop Wells committing more crimes? Unfortunately, Murphy cut the funding for this project.
An Inappropriate Policy
The governor tweeted:
We awoke to news of a mass shooting right here in Trenton.
Art All Night is a time when we all come together. We cannot let gun violence tear us apart.
These are not inappropriate times to talk about gun policy. These are the most important times to talk about gun policy.
Yet he does not say that now is the appropriate time to talk about making convicted killers, gang members and racketeers serve their full sentences. He does not say that now is an appropriate time to start keeping his own promise of helping released felons integrate back into society.
For Governor Murphy, now appears to be the appropriate time to make political capital on the back of an avoidable tragedy and to call for more laws that would once again hurt only those that follow the law.