To the Editor:
On Monday, February 4, a delegation of five concerned citizens representing the NJ Residents for Action met with United States Representative Leonard Lance and his chief of staff Todd Mitchell at Mr. Lance's office on South Avenue in Westfield.
We expressed to Congressman Lance our desire to see a ban on the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high capacity ammunition clips and a system of universal background checks that closes the private-sale loophole. We asked Congressman Lance to hold a town hall meeting at Westfield High School within the next several weeks in order to allow his constituents the opportunity to express their views on the topic of gun violence and as importantly, to allow his constituents to hear his views.
Congressman Lance categorically refused to schedule a meeting and stated that he never holds a town hall on one topic. We appealed to him asserting that is literally a life and death issue of tremendous interest but he still refused. We then asked to him to schedule a town hall open to all topics but he again refused saying that he never schedules meetings until March when the weather is better. We were not informed that Congressman Lance had in fact scheduled two meetings that week (one at the Milburn town hall) in contravention of this statement.
We then asked Congressman Lance what his views were on the topic. He demurred, and said that the Senate would take the lead on this issue and that he promised to "review any legislation that crossed his desk from the Senate." He said he was "open" to our views, but would not promise to vote for any bill including our stated goals. He told us that on the issue of gun violence, "The real problem is mental health," and encouraged us to adopt a "wait and see" approach. He denied being a member of the NRA and his chief of staff stated that Congressman Lance has received only one contribution from the NRA totaling $1,000. Congressman Lance said he doesn't remember filling out an NRA form which solicits the views of elected officials on matters relating to gun control despite his A- rating from the NRA.
Mr. Lance said that he "always votes his conscience." An analysis of some of his past votes is telling as it relates to his point of view. Congressman Lance voted to repeal the law that bans guns in national parks. Congressman Lance voted for HR 822, the so-called "Right to Carry Reciprocity Act" which allows holders of licenses to carry concealed weapons from other states to carry concealed weapons with impunity in other states where such a license was difficult to get (such as New Jersey) thus nullifying state laws on this matter. Mr. Lance voted against funding the National Gun Registry Database which is basis of the background search system.
It is incumbent upon Mr. Lance's constituents to contact him by phone, email or regular mail to let him know that he can't get away with doing the "Lance Dance" (a phrase coined by Dave Glasker) anymore on this issue. We want to know where he stands and we want him to know how strongly we feel about the need to protect our children and ourselves from the rampant gun violence that persists.