New Jersey – -(AmmoLand.com)- With the NJ GOP debate in our rearview and the primary election coming up on June 8th, 2021, I wanted to cap off my series of interviews by sharing a chat I had with Brian D. Levine.
Levine is a former Mayor of a New Jersey town and CPA. Levine, like Rizzo, did not qualify to take part in the debate with Ciattarelli and Singh. But, unlike Rizzo, he was not afforded an opportunity to be interviewed with the same questions either. Most of what I talked to Levine about was much of the same that I discussed with the other candidates.
The first question that I had been asking involves Concealed Carry in the Garden State. What did Levine have to say about the subject?
Everyone can get it in most every other state. You have to be a clean, law abiding citizen. Those are your safest people. If the legislature sent something forward, I would be all in. I’m a practical person, I don’t think executive orders can change that, but the legislature [can]. I’d certainly speak to them about it. Law abiding citizens are being “punished” because of a few bad people go crazy. It’s like if a kid choked on a French fry, are you gonna close down every McDonald’s in the country?…if it would pass [legislation] or I could convince them, that’d be great, unilaterally. Look if I had an Attorney General that say’s ‘oh no, you can do x y z’, I’m all ears. I don’t know if that’s the case.
As with some of the other candidates, I asked Levine his position on firearms magazine capacity limits. He sounded off:
I know people that had to change their magazine size. It’s ridiculous…It’s not like a law abiding citizen that has a larger magazine is going to do damage? It doesn’t even make sense. It’s like to make themselves [legislators] feel good or play to the public being legislators. It’s a “feel good law”, for themselves. So they can feel like they did something when they actually did less than nothing. They did damage to people.
We talked a little about “red flag” laws, as are in effect here in New Jersey. Levine does not support such provisions that lack due process. What he had to say on the subject:
It reminds me a lot of the Salem Witch trials. A neighbor says ‘oh that person’s a witch!’ So they arrest them and put them into jail. So a neighbor says ‘oh that guy he can’t handle his gun or shouldn’t have one or has issues’, you know then seize it without due process…if someone’s a danger, but not without due process…I don’t think they [red flag laws] make sense either…to just accuse someone, then seize it [the firearm], that’s totally improper.
I asked Levine about the announcement that Governor Murphy made on his new “gun safety” measures. He was not immediately aware of the announcement so I summarized some of the points to him. We talked about the mandatory training for ownership, funds going to Rutgers to study gun violence, and more storage laws. Levine was not in favor of much of these proposals. On the funds going to Rutgers, he did say that if the funds were going to unbiased research, sure, but did concede that the current administration is no friend of the Second Amendment. Some of what he had to say on the topics:
To me, the Second Amendment doesn’t say ‘right to bear arms if you go to school and get trained first.’…I don’t think you can require anything else of somebody. I don’t go for that. You have the right to purchase [firearms] to protect your family. Most of us want a certain amount of training, expertise, and practice, it’s not to be mandated. And the storage law, New Jersey has the strictest gun laws in the country. So people pass the “for feel good” kind of things. Make themselves feel good. It’s obvious, you can’t let a child have access. All those are common sense kind of things. We don’t have to go above and beyond…the proof is in the pudding. Law abiding citizens aren’t going out and using guns and weapons [maliciously].
In closing the interview, I asked Levine if there was anything he wanted to add that we did not cover. This is what he had to say:
With the Second Amendment here’s what perplexes me a little bit…American’s will say ‘oh our founding fathers they were fair, they were geniuses, they put this together.’ Then a whole swath of people say ‘the state will not establish a religion, freedom from search and seizure…’ fine, ‘but, there’s one where the wording’s not so clear, and we don’t quite agree.’ They cherry pick what they don’t like. People are hypocrites, and that’s hypocritical to me. We like the Bill of Rights, except for this line. All the wording is good to guarantee rights, except I don’t like this one. And that’s hypocritical. The Second Amendment says what it says and that’s the law of the land…sometimes they use these tragedies in the country as a shield, a shadow, to go on the attack…I wouldn’t buckle under public pressure like that either.
After his closing remarks on the Second Amendment, Levine wanted to add something that he thought was unrelated. In my opinion, what he brought up is not completely unrelated and an important issue to some of the people in New Jersey. Levine talked about how he was baffled that the bear hunt has been halted. New Jersey has some of the largest black bears in North America.
He told me about how he was invited to go along on some of the bear-tagging field expeditions with the biologists in his home county when he was mayor. He had quite a bit to say about the bear hunt being stopped. To note:
The bear hunt is justified by conservationists, environmentalists, and so I’m not sure why it was stopped…we do have deer hunting, mostly by cars because we took away their habitat. We’re doing the same thing to bears….There’s research and things behind it [the hunt], science. They’re learning about the bears also. They’re not endangered. Like the deer they’re going to die unfortunately from cars or starvation and things like that…It doesn’t make sense to disallow it.
It was a pleasure to chat with Mr. Levine, the final of the four candidates I’ve had the chance to interview on gun-related issues in New Jersey. He seems to have a very pragmatic approach in the manner he answered the questions and also seems like a realist. Levine does not have a rating with the NRA, so there is nothing to compare his answers from our chat to. If I had to rate him, he would be an A? in my book much like Rizzo and Singh. Levine does not seem quick to exercise any executive powers, however, he is also not ready to sign any more laws that will limit our freedoms. “The Second Amendment says what it says and that’s the law of the land…”
John Petrolino is a US Merchant Marine Officer, writer, author of Decoding Firearms: An Easy to Read Guide on General Gun Safety & Use and NRA certified pistol, rifle, and shotgun instructor living under and working to change New Jersey’s draconian and unconstitutional gun laws. You can find him on the web at www.johnpetrolino.com on twitter at @johnpetrolino and on instagram @jpetrolinoiii .