Potential Trouble Awaits Monday’s MacArthur Town Hall

Republican Congressman Tom MacArthur, representing New Jersey’s third congressional district, has avoided in-person town halls because he doesn’t “want to be baited into having an event that some outside group can just make a spectacle out of.” Instead, he has held two telephone-only “tele” town halls in recent weeks, which, according to first-hand accounts, have been highly filtered affairs, where a single person asks a question, the congressmen answers, no follow ups are allowed, and no interaction between participants is possible. Constituents in Marlton protested by holding their own in-person town hall that MacArthur himself did not attend.

MacArthur is holding an in-person town hall on Monday night, 7 miles from the east coast in an approximately 50 mile wide district (going from only a few miles away from Philadelphia, all the way to the coast). The town hall, first announced Friday morning, is scheduled to start at 6:30, with doors opening at 5:30, in a room having a capacity of 250. People must RSVP, and among those who RSVP, it is first come, first served.

A carpenters union and the New Jersey Second Amendment Society (NJ2AS), a second amendment advocacy group, have both posted an event called “The town hall to support Representative MacArthur.” The carpenter’s union event, posted by Carpenters Local # 255 of South Jersey, is scheduled to start at 5pm, a full hour-and-a-half before the official start time.

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The NJ2AS article states:

“Congressman Tom MacArthur, the first and only NJ Congressman to support the National Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act (HR38) so far, supported us when no one else would. Now it’s our turn to support him. As you may have seen on the news, town halls across the country have been raucous events full of bussed in members of the opposition sent there to harass their Congressman. We’re not going to let them outnumber us though. [W]e’re asking that hundreds of our supporters arrive to the townhall [sic] to be there inside and outside the event to let Tom AND the media know, that we support him…. We’re going to show groups across the country how to fight back against these organized protestors sent in to harass our members of Congress.”

The National Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act (HR38) is a bill that allows anyone to carry a concealed firearm in a state whose laws allow it, regardless which state they reside in, and regardless the laws in their home state. MacArthur has sponsored the bill, which has only been introduced.

So a union is planning on arriving very early, in as large numbers as possible, at a venue with a capacity of 250 in a district of 732,000 people. Additionally, a second amendment advocacy group is planning on attending in the “hundreds,” explicitly to “fight back against these organized protesters.” It seems that anyone who gets even mildly upset at MacArthur has already been accused as being someone who is not a constituent of, and has explicitly come to harass, the congressman.

Though clearly intended as intimidation against those wanting to challenge the representative, New Jersey’s gun laws are among the most strict in the country (although are set to be significantly overridden by this potential new law). This along with the expected level of security at events of this type, both inside and out, the likeliness of guns being brandished during the event are low.

To close with an opinion: As it relates to the difficulties congressmen have faced at recent town halls, one complaint I’ve heard that I believe has some merit, is how some protesters seem to want to simply vent their frustrations at the Trump administration and the Republican takeover of Congress. The more concrete and actionable people’s requests are, the better chance they have at being effective, and not being framed in a negative light. You can be angry, you can express that anger, and you can express it forcefully. But unless you express it with peace, and respect for the person you’re addressing, you lose.

Citizens’ Media TV will be covering the event live starting at 4pm.

Thanks to Ben Szioli for the editorial suggestions.

Jeff is the co-founder of Citizens’ Media TV, was one of around forty candidates in the country to be personally endorsed by Bernie Sanders, was a pledged delegate for him at the 2016 DNC, and is a finalist for Brand New Congress. He is also a singer and currently stars in Feel The Bern: The Musical. You can see more of his writing on his blog.

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Jeff Epstein

Jeff Epstein

Jeff is the co-founder of Citizens’ Media TV. He was a super-volunteer for Bernie Sanders, was one of around forty candidates in the country to be personally endorsed by the senator, and was a pledged delegate at the 2016 DNC. Jeff is also a finalist for Brand New Congress. You can see more of his writing on citizensmedia.tv.

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  • Ken Bank

    Interesting that TMac chose the most GOP friendly portion of the district, and the smallest public venue he could find. And if anybody thinks TMac’s staff had nothing to do with organizing his supporters, there’s a bridge across the Hudson River I’d like to sell.

    • guest

      This is deep , deep in inbreed Red Gilmore land.

      • Im Trump the 25 mil fraud

        Poor haven’t yet Old Pineys with Dementia who are too stupid to know they want to take your “entitlements” of SS and Medicare good luck with Trumpcare and your voucher
        Why is Happy Not in jail yet?

  • Mercy Otis Warren

    I just read the law about 6 times and it contains typical (almost unreadable) legalese. Unless I am reading it wrong (which may be the case), it would not affect NJ because this state does not issue permits to carry. It helps all the liberty oriented states who are too self centered to have reciprocity, but it does not help tyrannical states like the one MacArthur hails from. A simple laws which states the following would however help NJ: “The 2nd Amendment explicitly recognized the right of every US citizen to own and carry a firearms. Pursuant to the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, any legislation from any state that contravenes or in any way obstructs that right is null and void.” Fat chance MacArthur would ever actually support a piece of legislation that may help his constituents though.

    • aliteralmind

      This is the author: I’m having a hard time understanding the law as well. The text of the law seems to say that as long as your home state has an open carry law, you can carry anywhere in the country. I have heard interpretations that as long as you have a permit anywhere in the country, you can carry in New Jersey, regardless of your residence.

      That NJ2AS is excited about the potential for this law, implies that it will affect New Jersey.

      • USAFWX

        I was reading the law also and as it is written, it seems to give protections to people in other states that have conceal carry permits but does nothing for residents of NJ. Others are interpreting it to allow people with out of state carry permits who are residents of NJ will also be able to carry here but I don’t see that in the law.

        • Mercy Otis Warren

          It seems to depend on whether part (A) and (B) are referring to the word “state” directly proceeding it or the word “state” just before that. If it is the former, it does not seem to help us. If it is the latter, it may, because while NJ does not — practically speaking — issue the license to carry, they do have a statute technically allowing the practice. So maybe that is why these guys are getting excited. Either way, the law as written is inexcusably ambiguous and a court could construe it one way or the other. What perplexes me is the lack of clarity. Are these people truly incapable of drafting laws that are clear and concise? Or do they make them ambiguous on purpose? My bet is on the latter; that way maybe their law firms back home will be hired to litigate the issue once it most assuredly goes to court. This is all assuming the law passes in the first place.

      • Mercy Otis Warren

        Even if the interpretation above is correct, it still would not help NJ residences. PA and DE would be the big beneficiaries of this law in this part of the country. NJ, NY, CT, MA, and MD have horrible gun laws. Does anyone know what the deal is with NJ residence in say PA, NH, VT or ME. When in those states, do NJ laws apply to NJ gun owners, or do the laws of those states?