Armed guards at N.J. churches backed by lawmakers from both political parties

Violence against Jews in New Jersey and shootings at houses of worship across the country has spurred state lawmakers from both political parties to support a measure to allow armed guards in places of worship.

“It’s not a partisan issue,” said state Assemblyman Gary Schaer, a prime sponsor of the bill.

“The legislation is the result of an unfortunate conclusion that what we’re doing is not enough,” Schaer, D-Passaic, added. “It’s depressing.”

The bill (A1255) would permit one person in a house of worship to be armed. The person would be required to take firearms training courses.

The bill’s other prime sponsor is Assemblyman Ronald Dancer, R-Monmouth.

Schaer cited the November 2017 mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, where 26 people were killed and the October 2018 shooting at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which claimed 11 lives.

Closer to home, two shooters killed four people in December in a Jewish neighborhood in Jersey City that was ruled a hate crime.

But whether Gov. Phil Murphy would support the measure is an open question.

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