State Senator Joe Cryan and Union Township Mayor Michele Delisfort, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for Union County commissioner in the upcoming primary election, welcomed an NRA-affiliated firearms shooting range to the Route 22 business corridor and his Cryan’s wife gave the new business a glowing write-up in the family-owned news publication that charges for coverage.
“A new, state-of-the-art, 3,500 sq. ft. gun range opened on Saturday in Union with hundreds of visitors, gun enthusiasts and guests in attendance to get a look at the newest RTSP location,” said Kathy Cryan, in an article published on December 14, 2018. “The new RTSP facility is located at 2438 Rt. 22 East and includes a premier indoor shooting range, store, training facility, and a full-service coffee shop.”
RTSP stands for “Right to Self Protect” and the shooting range and Kathy Cryan said, “Don’t miss your shot to win some incredible giveaways from RTSP.”
Delisfort listed the shooting range among her township’s biggest economic development accomplishments of 2018, during a speech that said the facility brings hundreds of gun enthusiasts and their guests to visit Union Township.
“This beautiful facility has brought new jobs, new investment and recreational opportunities for our residents and those in the surrounding areas,” said Delisfort’s running mate, Township Committeeman Manuel Figueiredo. “With all the amenities, it’s a new wonderful resource for law enforcement officers and legal gun owners everywhere.”
Shooters at the gun range may be as young as 8 years old.
Cryan accepted campaign contributions from the NRA early in his career, but he has avoided financial support from the gun lobby in recent years because such donations have become toxic among Democratic primary voters.
The lawmaker voted to shield gun owners from being identified by supporting legislation proposed by the NRA that prevents lists of firearms license holders from being made public, which critics say has hampered efforts to take deadly weapons away from emotionally unstable or otherwise irresponsible individuals.
In recent years, tragedies caused by gun violence have left an indelible mark in our minds. Nationally, in 2020, more people died of gun-related injuries than in any other year. In New Jersey, 443 people were killed by a firearm. Beyond its human toll, gun violence costs our state an estimated $3.3 billion every year.
Gun violence continues to impact our communities whether it is through the killing of our babies in a classroom, or the killing of our family members shopping on a Sunday, or even being killed as you watch a movie, no one is safe from this reality.
It affects big and small cities alike. But the truth is, while this violence affects us all, it still disproportionally impacts Black and brown communities at an alarming rate. This is a full-fledged public health crisis.
“Whether you have experience with Firearms or not, RTSP has something for you,” said Kathy Cryan in another article. “RTSP’s gun ranges can accommodate handguns, shotguns, and rifles (up to .308). Their friendly, knowledgeable staff of experts are helpful and accommodating, allowing beginners and experts to both have a fun, safe, and informative experience on the range.”
Time has demonstrated that was not the case.
Less than two years after opening its doors, a 22-year-old man suffered from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound at the Union gun range. The victim, whose name was not released, arrived with three friends and fired a few shots down the range before turning the gun on himself, according to township Police Director Dan Zieser.
Zieser said police received a 911 call at 7:22 p.m. on Nov. 23, 2020, reporting a man had shot himself in the head while at the range, and the victim was taken to University Medical Center in Newark, where the last published reports said he remained in critical condition.
Cynthia (Cindy) Fowlkes, 52, a real estate broker at RE/MAX InStyle Realty, who is registered to vote in the Somerset County community of Hillsborough, New Jersey, appeared in a picture posted on social media looking in the wrong direction while firing a handgun at the RTSP gun shooting range.
In 2013, New Jersey was ranked as the state with the third strictest firearm laws by the Brady Campaign, a gun control advocacy group. It was just behind California and Connecticut. New Jersey also had the fifth lowest rate of deaths related to gun violence, according to the group’s report.
However, New Jersey’s firearm standards changed after a commission created under former Republican Governor Chris Christie’s released a 25-page report calling for looser laws, a US Supreme Court decision —in the NRA-backed case known as New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen— invalidated part of state’s law regulating the carrying of concealed weapons, and Democratic Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation to revise the permitting system.
“Nearly every gun recovered in a crime starts as a legal sale from a licensed firearms dealer,” said Angela Alvey-Wimbush, who is vying against Cryan for the Democratic nomination for state Senate. “A small percentage of firearms dealers are responsible for the vast majority of crime guns but by supporting the NRA gun lobby, are contributing to the social, racial, and economic injustices that continue to plague this country.”
RTSP is a member of both the NSSF, the Firearm Industry Trade Association, and the NRA, the gun lobby. Both groups are known for adopting many extreme right-wing positions.
They have argued against common sense regulations to promote gun safety
The Firearm Industry Trade Association awarded Texas Gun Experience its Five-Star rating for range excellence two days after police in Texas say, a 38-year-old mangunned down a neighboring family in a Houston suburb.
Francisco Oropeza Pere-Torres had been firing shots in his yard, and the family next door asked him to move farther away from their home because their baby was asleep. The neighbor then killed Sonia Argentina Guzman, Diana Velázquez Alvarado, Julisa Molina Rivera, José Jonathan Cásarez and Daniel Enrique Laso-Guzman, who turned 9 in January.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirmed that the gunman suspected of fatally shooting five people, and wounding five others, in Cleveland, Texas, is a Mexican national who was deported four times before Friday’s tragedy.
It feels as though even our extensive American vocabulary for gun violence can’t keep up with 2023. Some are schools. Some workplaces. One was in a dance studio in Monterey Park. Different circumstances and yet painfully familiar, hence our dark and twisted vocabulary.
Elected officials speak of “senseless violence,” as if the senseless kind were the outlier. In fact it is “sensible violence” that has been proven to be a rarity.
Gun advocates push the phrase “good guy with a gun,” even though civilians end mass shootings fewer than 3% of the time while there have already been more than 225 mass shootings in the U.S. this year. There have also been about 7,000 gun homicides so far.
“Gun violence is a public health crisis. The responsibility falls on the shoulders of the decision makers of our nation’s health systems and hospitals to change the narrative on gun safety and pursue solutions that will make a meaningful difference,” said Northwell Health President Michael Dowling to a conference of hospital and healthcare executives.
“Firearms are not a public health issue,” insist gun advocates.
“The firearm industry is deeply grateful to the legislators who worked diligently to protect industries that are wrongfully denied essential financial services simply because ‘woke’ Wall Street banks politically disagree with them,” said Lawrence G. Keane, senior vice president and general counsel for NSSF, a trade association for the firearm industry.
“The firearm industry is deeply grateful to the legislators who worked diligently to protect industries that are wrongfully denied essential financial services simply because ‘woke’ Wall Street banks politically disagree with them,” said Keane.