***VIDEO RELEASE*** Menendez Witnesses AR-15 Live-Fire Demonstration, Renews Call for Swift Action on Gun Reform

***VIDEO RELEASE*** Menendez Witnesses AR-15 Live-Fire Demonstration, Renews Call for Swift Action on Gun Reform


CEDAR GROVE, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) today visited the Essex County Police Academy in Cedar Grove with Sheriff Armando Fontoura to witness firsthand the power of an AR-15 assault rifle during a live-fire demonstration by the sheriff’s officers.  The military-style weapon was used in several mass shootings, including by the gunman who took 17 lives last month in Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.  The senator again called on Congress to act to pass common sense gun safety legislation to help prevent future tragedies.  They were joined by County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo and Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose.

“We hear these things—AR-15 and we hear about people being killed—but when you see it visually, you understand.  Imagine being a student in that school or any school in America, and someone with an AR-15 and a whole series of clips is walking down your hallway shooting away, the absolute terror that must exist,” said Sen. Menendez, who had never seen an AR-15 fired in person before today.  “We need, as a country, to raise our voices and insist that the Congress have the same courage as the Stoneman Douglas students have exhibited; they took a tragedy and turned it into a movement, and they have demanded that those who represent them make sure that ‘once again’ becomes ‘never again.’ And we’re going to continue to pressure and keep this focus until we have that opportunity on the floor of the United States Senate.”



Capt. Pete Korbo, a ballistics expert who until recently ran the Sheriff’s Office’s ballistics lab and is now the commanding officer of the department’s patrol division, conducted the demonstration, firing off 50 rounds in 65 seconds, while reloading twice.  The semi-automatic AR-15 can fire as quickly as you can physically pull the trigger.  The Parkland shooter reportedly sprayed the school with 150 bullets in mere minutes, and left behind another 180 rounds before fleeing the building.

“What you just saw was a demonstration of deadly, deadly firepower that unfortunately our officers here in Essex County all too often come in contact with,” Sheriff Fontoura said, displaying a cache of assault rifles seized in Essex County.  “There is no place, as far we’re concerned, for an AR-15 anywhere on the streets of Essex County, New Jersey or the United States of America.  The weapon is designed for war.  The weapon is designed to kill in a war zone only, that’s where it should be kept.  Senator Menendez is fighting every day to make sure our officers and our citizens are safe.” 

“The massacre in Parkland, Fla., is just the latest tragedy involving high-powered guns,” said County Executive DiVincenzo.  “Senator Menendez has been in the forefront of common sense legislation that would bring much-needed regulation and oversight to the gun industry and the people who use them. The demonstration today shows that the sole purpose of weapons like the AR-15 Is for murder.”

Sen. Menendez joined several colleagues last week on the Senate Floor to demand action on common sense gun safety legislation.  During his speech, the senator noted several private companies that have taken action since the Parkland shooting, notably: Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart announcing it would no longer sell firearms to people under 21; Dick’s halting sales of assault rifles, like the AR-15; and companies, such as United Airlines and Enterprise Rent-A-Car, have discontinued benefit programs for National Rifle Association (NRA) members.

Sen. Menendez stood with survivors of the Parkland, Fla. school shooting at a Feb. 25 rally in Livingston, N.J., calling for passage of common sense gun safety measures.  He was joined by Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students Harris Jaffe, siblings David and Lauren Hogg, and brothers Ryan and Matthew Deitsch. 

Sen. Menendez is the prime sponsor of the Keep Americans Safe Act, common sense public safety legislation banning the importation, sale, manufacture, transfer, or possession of gun magazines that hold more than ten rounds of ammunition and are designed for shooting en masse. 

Sen. Menendez, who voted for the original Assault Weapons Ban in 1994 as a member of the House of Representatives, has cosponsored legislation to reinstate the assault weapons ban. He has also sponsored legislation to expand background checks and close the gun show loophole, outlaw “bump stocks” and other devices that make semiautomatic weapons fully automatic, prevent those on the Terror Watch List from purchasing guns, and improve access to mental health and addiction treatment. 

Last month, Sen. Menendez joined a group of senators in demanding answers after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) failed to record court-martials or criminal convictions of servicemembers into the FBI’s background check database.  The senator opposes arming school teachers and supports the rights of states to pass their own gun laws restricting concealed carry permits.  He also participated in the 2016 Democratic filibuster for common sense gun safety on the Senate Floor and joined his House colleagues in a sit-in on the House Floor.