Robert Romano deserves to be criticized. He is a hypocrite and an elitist. As a former cop, Romano is able to lawfully do what very few civilians here in New Jersey can do: carry a concealed weapon. He does so for self-defense purposes.
Pro-gun mayor comes under attack by National Rifle Association
By KRISTI FUNDERBURK • and KAITLYN ANNESS • GANNETT NEWS • September 17, 2009
VINELAND — Mayor Robert Romano has supported legal gun ownership most of his life.
He got his first pistol –– a .38 special –– when he joined the city's Police Department in 1974 and currently owns four registered handguns. He believes people have the right to own guns, but must do it legally.
Now, the cop-turned-mayor's stance on illegal guns is drawing fire from the nation's most active gun-rights group.
Shortly after taking office last fall, Romano joined Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition of hundreds of mayors across the country dedicated to enforcing proper gun ownership.
But the group has recently come into the crosshairs of the National Rifle Association, which says the mayors' group is actually working against gun-ownership rights.
Now the mayor is defending his stance.
"People that obtain guns illegally or carry guns illegally, that's what I'm against," Romano said. "I don't want people to think I'm against legal guns. I'm not."
He has made that clear to the dozen or so local NRA members who have contacted him since receiving the NRA's mailing last week.
The NRA urged its New Jersey members to call, e-mail and write Romano and other mayors to ask them to support law-abiding gun owners and publicly disassociate themselves with the coalition.
The tactic has worked, with dozens of mayors dropping their association. Romano, though, says he won't be swayed.
He is one of 38 mayors in New Jersey remaining in the coalition –– a drop from 43 last week.
"As a mayor, we should be consolidated together to fight against illegal guns because that's the biggest issue police are fighting today," Romano said.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns started in April 2006 when New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino called on 15 mayors to discuss the topic of illegal guns in American cities.
Jason Post, a spokesman with the coalition and Bloomberg's office, said the NRA has never made claims against the coalition to this extent before.
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"I can't speak to what motivated the NRA to launch a campaign full of misconceptions and mistruths," Post said. "The coalition supports the rights of gun owners and always has since it started in 2006."
But Vickie Cieplak, spokeswoman with the NRA, said Bloomberg's coalition supports legislation that isn't about illegal guns and negatively affects law-abiding gun owners.
"This group is somewhat misleading in what they stand for," she said. "We're just trying to make the NRA members aware and let them voice their opinion that this is what this group stands for. They have an anti-gun agenda."
The coalition had 463 members on Sept. 8 –– the day the NRA started sending postcards to members –– and it had 393 as of Wednesday afternoon, Cieplak said.
The mayors' coalition opposes the Tiahrt Amendment to the Second Amendment –– which enhances the privacy rights of legal gun owners and limits disclosure of firearms data –– and the recently defeated Thune Amendment, Cieplak said.
Romano believes the coalition's stand against the Thune Amendment –– which would have allowed concealed-gun permit holders to transport their guns over state lines –– is why it became a target for the NRA.
"It would be a law enforcement nightmare," he said of the failed amendment.
While New Jersey has strict gun laws, "in other states it's relatively easy to get a concealed- carry permit," Romano said. He figures it could also be easy for someone to create a fake permit for one state and attempt to use it in another.
'People protecting themselves'
Romano served with the police department for 34 years before retiring to take public office last summer.
Currently, Romano owns four guns –– including his .38 "Chief's Special," a .45-caliber called "The Judge," and two .40-caliber Glocks –– that he locks in a safe at home.
He does have a permit as a retired law enforcement officer to carry any of the handguns in any state.
Romano carries that permit, which he must qualify for semi-annually, as well as his old Vineland police identification card and now retired badge.
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It's not clear how many registered guns or gun owners there are in Vineland, but police said residents applied for roughly 600 handgun permits, firearms identification cards, and card information changes in 2008.
The department is averaging about 50 per month this year, Vineland police Capt. Rudy Beu said.
State law requires residents to submit an application to their local police department.
Not everyone who applies is approved for a permit or card, Beu said. The process includes an extensive background check of the applicant's criminal and mental health histories, and it takes an average 60 days to render a decision, Beu said.
Cieplak said the concealed-carry permit holders that the Thune Amendment would affect do go through training, classes, and background checks and must fill out paperwork to receive the permit.
The permit holders would still be required to abide by the laws of the state they are in, she said.
"It's for the businessman taking money to a bank out of state. It's for people with stalkers, judges and parole officers. It's basically about people protecting themselves across state lines," she said.
'Crime control, not gun control'
The NRA claims Bloomberg's coalition of mayors stood against the Thune Amendment, which the Senate defeated in July, and are looking to repeal the Tiahrt Amendment.
The NRA also claims the mayor's coalition is against reform of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and in favor of putting gun shows out of existence, according to the postcard the NRA mailed.
The postcard also states Bloomberg started the coalition "as a front group to lobby Congress to oppose important pro-gun reforms and support new federal gun control restrictions."
Post refuted the NRA's statements.
"This is about crime control, not gun control," he said.
The coalition maintains the Tiahrt Amendment harms law enforcement by restricting full access to gun trace data and prevents the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms bureau from requiring gun dealers to keep annual physical inventory checks to detect losses and thefts.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns considered the defeat of the Thune Amendment a victory, believing it is best to let each state set and enforce their own laws.
Post said the coalition isn't calling for an end to gun shows, but wants background checks done on consumers who buy weapons at such shows.
And Post clarified that Bloomberg is not against gun ownership, in fact the billionaire mayor owned a .22 rifle as a teenager.
"We're working hard to clear up myths and present the facts," Post said. "The Second Amendment protects the rights of law-abiding citizens. It's the job of elected officials to protect the public."
Romano was an NRA member about a decade ago, but hasn't renewed his membership recently.
He said he would disassociate himself from Bloomberg's coalition if it ever became an anti-gun organization.
"Guns are not a bad thing," Romano said. "With so many people having guns illegally, I think people should have guns to at least protect their house."
Go to the Asbury Park Press website and you can see him holding up one of his revolvers.
It's a Taurus Judge
I have friends in Vineland, Romano is doing a great job there, but the NRA has apoint, he is giving influence to Bloomberg and his socialist cronies. One of the mayors on the list lives in a town, that has the highest per capital membership in the NRA...she got a lot of grief and is the only one that runs for mayor...he should drop out, that group is a front for the anti gun crowd
""Guns are not a bad thing," Romano said. "With so many people having guns illegally, I think people should have guns to at least protect their house.""
Is that some sort of joke? Thats ALL you can protect with a gun in NJ, and barely at that.
I find myself talking to alot of NJ residents on a daily basis. Most of them are in agreeance that the laws are garbage, even non gun owners. Reform is coming.
Originally Posted By 240shwag:
Reform is coming.
In this state? You'll see pigs fly first.
Reform is coming.
I soooo hope it is.