Monmouth senator: Gun industry at fault in Asbury Park shooting
ASBURY PARK — Newly elected state Sen. Vin Gopal blamed the gun industry for the shooting death of a 10-year-old boy before details about the incident were released.
On his personal Facebook page, the Democratic from Long Branch wrote, "Let’s join the brave kids in Florida and rise up against an industry that just wants to profit off of weak gun laws." Gopal linked to an Asbury Park Press story about the Wednesday night shooting on Ridge Avenue in Asbury Park just before 10 a.m. on Thursday.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office at that time had not released any information about the incident beyond confirming the boy had died and his mother had been hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries.
Prosecutors later said that a 16-year-old student at Neptune Township High School had been charged with murder in connection to the fatal shooting.
"It's very frustrating when I see a 10-year-old gunned down in Asbury Park," Gopal told New Jersey 101.5, adding that he wants to the NRA and gun manufacturers to be more aggressive in promoting responsible gun ownership. He also said that investigators need to learn if the gun used in the shooting was legal or illegal.
"How did it get there? How that can never, ever happen again? That's why I'm a little frustrated because I don't believe it's a sincere effort on their part to try and stop this," Gopal said.
Alexander Roubian, president of the New Jersey Second Amendment Society, said it is not relevant because "law abiding citizens don't go through the vigorous process of purchasing firearms and then commiting crimes with them."
"Why are they blaming the tool instead of asking the question 'who was the criminal?’ — which most of the time, when they're caught, they're had repeat felonies — and 'why did he have a frearm?"
"I know a 10-year-old is dead,” Gopal said. “I want the NRA and every gun company to be on the forefront leading the argument, leading the conversation. Just because their industry profits off the creation of guns, they shouldn't take a step back and three weeks from now and say 'you know what? We don't support that. This is terrible.' I don't think this is a sincere on either of those parties to try to solve this mess. We're watching week after week kids getting killed in Chicago and throughout the country. They need to be actual partners in a sincere effort and I don't believe they are.”
Roubian disagrees with Gopal about the NRA promoting responsible gun ownership.
"This is where Vin is delusional. The NRA did offer free training for schools on how to properly protect schools. They also do provide free training to children in the schools through the Eddie Eagle program to educate children that if they ever see a gun don't touch it: Leave the area and tell an adult," Roubian said.
He said it's the same as blaming Ford and General Motors because someone drove one of their vehicle while under the influence.
Gopal has introduced a bill that would require mental health professionals who determines a patient poses a threat of harm to self or others to seize their firearms.
"The second amendment comes with responsibilities...if someone has a mental health issue they should not be able to get a gun," Gopal said.
Gopal, the former Monmouth County Democratic chairman, defeated incumbent GOP state Sen. Jennifer Beck in November in the 11th Legislative District in Monmouth County.