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Murphy calls for more gun laws after Buffalo shooting. Opponents ‘can shove their thoughts and prayers.’ 6/1/2022 Brent Johnson,
Gov. Phil Murphy signs the Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act outside the Teaneck Library. Thursday, January 13, 2022. Teaneck, N.J. © Aristide Economopoulos/ Gov. Phil Murphy signs the Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act outside the Teaneck Library. Thursday, January 13, 2022. Teaneck, N.J.

Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday renewed a plea for stronger federal and state firearm legislation after mass shootings in Buffalo and other American cities this weekend, telling gun-control opponents and conspiracy theorists they “can shove their ‘thoughts and prayers‘“ and saying “outrage and action“ are long overdue.

The Democratic governor also said he is “very concerned” about the possibility of the U.S. Supreme Court striking down New York state’s concealed carry law and what that means for New Jersey, where the law makes it very difficult to obtain a permit to carry a gun outside your house.

Speaking at an unrelated public appearance in Hackensack, Murphy opened the event by chastising politicians who lament mass shootings but decline to tighten gun laws.

”Cue the expected and pitiful expressions of ‘thoughts and prayers’ from those held so powerfully in the grip of the gun lobby,” he said.

Murphy then criticized conservatives who have pushed a conspiracy theory that Black people are “replacing” white people in the U.S.

“And as it pertains to Buffalo, cue the hurried backpedaling from the right-wing talking heads and politicians who have so freely and openly peddled the garbage ‘replacement conspiracy’ — I can’t bring myself to call it a theory — and who can’t possibly believe that the words they’ve poisoned our airwaves and rotted our civic dialogue with could actually come home to roost,” he said.

“I think every single one of them knows where they can shove their ‘thoughts and prayers,’” Murphy added.

An 18-year-old white man shot 11 Black people and two white people, killing 10 people in total, at a supermarket Saturday in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo. Officials have said the shooter was a self-described racist, according to a manifesto he allegedly penned prior to the massacre. The manifesto reportedly references replacement theory.

Murphy said the shooter was “pumped full of racist and nationalist conspiracies” and “targeted Black residents doing nothing more than shopping for their groceries” in what “we cannot call anything but an act of domestic terrorism.”

Also this weekend, more than 20 people were shot in Milwaukee outside of an NBA playoff game; one person was killed and five were wounded in a shooting at a church in Laguna Woods, California; and two were killed and three wounded at a flea market in Houston.

Murphy called it “another mournful week in America.”

Saying it’s “well past time for outrage and action,” he urged the nation’s Democratic-controlled Congress to “step up and pass real nationwide gun safety legislation.”

He also pressed New Jersey’s Democratic-controlled Legislature to pass a new package of gun-control bills he is pushing. The proposals would require people buying firearms in the state to pass gun safety classes, change how firearm owners in the state are required to store their guns, ban the future sales of .50 caliber guns in the state, increase the age people can buy shotguns and rifles in the state from 18 to 21, mandate gun dealers in the state keep logs of ammunition sales, and make it easier to challenge gunmakers in court, among other moves.

Murphy said the legislation would “not only make it harder for guns to fall into the wrong hands but to give law enforcement greater tools to protect communities.”

Critics have said the bills won’t actually curb violent crime because they largely target law-abiding gun owners and don’t stem illegal guns flowing in from other states.

New Jersey already has the second-most stringent gun laws in the U.S., after California, according to rankings by the Gifford Law Center.

State Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, has publicly supported the new measures. But state Senate President Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, has not indicated yet where he stands on them.

Murphy on Monday pointed to a satirical headline from The Onion about mass shootings that says: “‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.”

“That headline is supposed to be a joke,” the governor said. ”We can prevent it.“

Murphy said stronger laws and electing candidates who support such “common-sense” proposals will help.

“There can be no safe place for any candidate or any elected official seeking wiggle room on guns to hide,” he said. “Wiggle room is how we end up with 16 dead Americans in one fitful weekend — more than half of whom were targeted just because they were Black.”

“How many more people have to senselessly die before we wake up?” Murphy asked.

Murphy’s comments come amid rumors that Murphy may seek to run for the White House in 2024, if Democratic President Joe Biden doesn’t seek re-election — which the governor has repeatedly downplayed. There is also talk he could seek a Cabinet position.

Monday’s event was to announce New Jersey will use $10 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to help provide fire departments with more safety and sanitary equipment. Joining Murphy at the event was Edward Kelly, general president of the International Association of Fire Fighters labor union.

Kelly, a fellow Massachusetts native, said Murphy “governs with compassion,” “heart,” and “courage.”

“We would be well-served to channel that governance across our great country,” he said in remarks that sound as if they could be an endorsement for Murphy to seek national office.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court is preparing to rule in the coming weeks in a case over a New York state law requiring gun owners be licensed to carry a concealed firearm. In its lawsuit, the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association argues the law violates the Second Amendment because it limits peoples’ right to bear arms.

Gun-control proponents are worried about the outcome, especially after a preliminary draft was leaked showing the court intends to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision making abortion legal across the country.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, has said New Yorkers should be “very afraid” if the court overturns the conceal cary law.

New Jersey — home to some of the nation’s most stringent gun restrictions — has a similar conceal carry law to New York, with owners required to show “a written certification of justifiable need to carry a handgun.” Opponents have long said that’s too “draconian.”

Murphy echoed Adams’ concern about the Supreme Court’s pending ruling, fearing it could loosen New Jersey’s laws.

“Look at what happened over the weekend,” the governor told reporters Monday. “If I understand it correctly, it’ll be a lowest common denominator reality. Notwithstanding all the good, strong gun-safety laws we’ve put in place here and the ones we still need to get done, we’d be blocked out to an unacceptable level of protection, which is extraordinary. God willing, it doesn’t come to pass. But I’m very concerned.”

Murphy said he’s not certain how the court ruling against New York’s law could affect New Jersey or what New Jersey leaders would do in response.

“It’s not 100% clear to me yet,” he said. “We’ve done a lot. We have among, if not the strongest, gun-safety laws in America. Which is a good thing. But we need to do more here, we need Congress to do more, and we need a responsible Supreme Court. If they start to undo and get us down to a lowest common denominator definition, that’s extremely disturbing. But we will look at all options to do whatever we can to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School, told television station New York 1 the court overturning New York’s law would mean “more people carrying guns in New York City.”

What’s uncertain, he said, is how much government could regulate it.

“(The court) could say you don’t need a permit at all,” Waldman said. “They could say you have to do what a lot of other states have done, which is to basically say you need a permit, but anybody who asks for it, gets the permit.”

NJ Advance Media staff writer Matt Arco contributed to this report.

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Brent Johnson may be reached at Follow him at @johnsb01.

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