Scott Bach, an NRA board member and head of the NRA's New Jersey affiliate, dismissed the family of a child who died during the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre as "a prop" in response to the family's support for a New Jersey bill that would limit gun magazine size.
The New Jersey legislature is currently considering a bill which would reduce the legal ammunition magazine capacity from 15 rounds down to 10. Supporters of the legislation have pointed to mass shootings where high-capacity magazines were used, including Sandy Hook, to argue that such magazines threaten public safety. On May 5, the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee will hold a hearing and possibly advance the bill to the full New Jersey Senate. The General Assembly version of the bill passed in March.
Bach, who is executive director of the official NRA affiliate group Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, made an April 30 appearance on the NRA News show Cam & Company in order to warn NRA members about the hearing, but while doing so he insulted Newtown families who have supported the legislation. In claiming that the real purpose of the legislation is to make Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie "uncomfortable because of the emotional component," Bach claimed the bill's backers "brought out the Newtown victim's family and frankly used them as a prop or a show."
The families of four children killed at Sandy Hook who have traveled to New Jersey to testify in favor of the bill are not props; instead they speak from first-hand experience about the deadly consequences of high-capacity magazines. During the Sandy Hook massacre, the gunman used an assault weapon equipped with 30-round high-capacity magazines to fire 154 rounds in less than five minutes, killing 20 children and six educators. Authorities have said that a number of children were able to escape the shooter as he paused to reload. As Nicole Hockley, who lost her son in the shooting, noted while supporting similar Connecticut legislation to reduce magazine size, "We ask ourselves every day -- every minute -- if those magazines had held 10 rounds, forcing the shooter to reload at least six more times, would our children be alive today?"
During a February press conference, Hockley described how the Newtown shooter decided to leave smaller capacity magazines at home, instead favoring the 30-round magazine, and she asked whether more children would have survived the shooting if high-capacity magazines were subject to restrictions:
"In Newtown we learned the brutal truth about the devastation that a high capacity magazine can cause," said Nicole Hockley, whose six-year old son Dylan was among those killed that day. ["]The person that killed my son carried 10, 30-round, large capacity magazines into Sandy Hook Elementary School. 300 rounds. He chose to leave the smaller capacity magazines at home. He chose to have the best kill rate possible by using high capacity magazines, which only exist to deliver as many bullets as possible in the shortest time frame. In approximately four minutes he shot 154 bullets and killed 26 women and children. Five of those bullets hit my son and in an instant my precious boy was gone. But in the time it took the shooter to reload ...in Dylan's classroom, 11 children had the opportunity to escape."
Hockley wondered how many more children might have escaped had the shooter been forced to reload three times more often than he was.
"How man[y] more children would still be alive, from both classrooms," she wondered. "Perhaps my son would still be alive."
According to an analysis of mass shootings occurring between January 2009 and September 2013 conducted by gun violence prevention group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, shootings involving assault weapons or high-capacity magazines are characterized by a significantly higher death and injury rate:
Last year Bach was condemned by Jewish groups including the Anti-Defamation League for trivializing "the historical truth of the Holocaust" after he claimed on NRA News that Jersey City, New Jersey Mayor Steven Fulop was wrong to require city gun vendors to fill out a survey about gun safety, considering that Fulop's grandparents survived the Holocaust.
New Jersey Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald denounced Bach's comment, telling the New York Daily News, "Mr. Bach's heartless and offensive comments about the parents who lost their children to senseless and tragic gun violence in Newtown are the lowest of the low. Mr. Bach's statements, which suggest that somehow these families should not have a voice in this debate, are truly offensive, shocking and wrong."