MacArthur vs. Lonegan on Guns

By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog

Tom MacArthur (left) and Steve Lonegan (right) are vying for the CD3 GOP nomination.

Tom MacArthur (left) and Steve Lonegan (right) are vying for the CD3 GOP nomination.

Updated 12:55 p.m.

Our old friend Frank Luna (currently serving as Tom MacArthur’s campaign manager) reached out after this post went live to clarify his candidate’s position/record where bow hunting is concerned, Save Jerseyans:

“Tom supported easing the restrictions on bow hunting, greatly expanded deer hunt in town, increased hunting permits by 50% over 3 years, and made it legal to hunt on municipal properties where it was previously outlawed. This is another Lonegan attack that is simply not true and personifies his flailing, desperate, poorly run campaign. No wonder he has been rejected by the Party faithful in Burlington and Ocean Counties.”

Original Post

The Second Amendment isn’t necessarily a top tier issue for most federal campaigns’ messaging in 2014, Save Jerseyans, and the GOP leadership is too busy sticking its collective foot in in its mouth to care. What else is new?

But that doesn’t mean it’s an unimportant issue for GOP base voters whom individual campaigns in lean-red districts hope to reach, particularly right here at home in New Jersey where the state legislature has generated dozens of new gun control bills in recent months. New Jersey and the 2A was even a topic at this past weekend’s National Rifle Association (NRA) conference in Indiana. Rightly so.

Save Jersey readers following the MacArthur v. Lonegan primary battle keep asking me this question, so you should know that both CD3 Republican candidates have staked out unambiguously pro-2A positions. That doesn’t mean there aren’t a few nuances for political nerds and issue advocates to analyze. There always are…

Don’t look for nuance on their respective pages. Tom MacArthur’s website states that he’s “a long-standing supporter of the Second Amendment and will defend the constitutional right of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and their families, to hunt, to collect, and to shoot competitively or recreationally – as Tom and his daughter enjoy doing.”

Steve Lonegan’s issue page is no less direct (or vague), declaring that Steve supports the individual right to keep and bear arms and opposes new federal gun control laws.

Where are the nuts buried? Lonegan, for example, endorsed the premise of “universal mandatory background checks” gun control legislation back in 2013 during a U.S. campaign appearance on MSNBC, a position that’s anathema to the NRA:

Under the original Toomey/Manchin legislation, doctors wouldn’t have committed a HIPAA violation by submitting health records into the national background check system, Internet sales would have require a background check (muc of the 2012 Aurora, Colorado shooter’s arsenal was purchased online), and the so-called “gun show loophole” would’ve been shuttered. Person-to-person exchanges would NOT, however, have been banned.

“While the overwhelming rejection of President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg’s “universal” background check agenda is a positive development, we have a broken mental health system that is not going to be fixed with more background checks at gun shows,” the NRA had argued at the time. “The sad truth is that no background check would have prevented the tragedy in Newtown, Aurora or Tucson.”

The NRA had supported expanded background checks in years past including after a different Colorado massacre at Columbine High School, but changing politics and privacy fears led to a reversal since the 1990s. Republican base boogeyman New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s stated goal behind his latest $50 million dollar ad campaign is the adoption of national universal background checks.

Tom MacArthur watchers don’t have the benefit Steve Lonegan’s extensive record of public statements in statewide or federal races to drawn upon, but the Daily Caller recently tried to make hay out of then-Councilman MacArthur’s comments on bow hunting at an August 4, 2011 Randolph council meeting:

Councilman MacArthur noted that an amendment to the law was due that would change the distance from 450 feet to 150 feet. The Councilman asked when that new law would take effect.

Mr. Prata responded that the new law was enacted last year and is in effect.

Councilman MacArthur asked if bows such as compound bows and crossbows would be included in the hunt and if there are any limitations.

Mr. Perez responded that all bows mentioned by Councilman MacArthur would be legal.

Councilman MacArthur noted that while he is generally supportive, he is concerned with safety. The Councilman asked if the Township had any legal right to make the state law more restrictive.

Mr. Prata responded that the state does control the hunt.

That was pretty much the end of it by all accounts; there’s no indication that MacArthur went beyond questioning the safety of bows using levering system within city limits and pushed for any changes in state law, something which this blogger would never support and I suspect neither would most of this blog’s readership.

Just don’t be surprised if you see either background checks or compound bows emerge as issues down the final primary season stretch, Save Jerseyans, as both contenders’ campaigns continue their aggressive hunt for a general election House race berth. NRA ratings are also expected out any day now… we’ll update our own analysis if/when either guy goes on record concerning concealed carry or any of the other hot #2A sub-topics.

Where does the presumptive Democrat nominee Aimee Belgard stand on guns? Good question. Ask her if you get a chance. Google doesn’t reveal much…

belgard gun control

Well, it’s about as nuanced a position as her Obamacare “fix” comments!