New Jersey – -(AmmoLand.com)- Former gubernatorial candidate Philip Rizzo is on the campaign trail again! Rizzo, a former pastor and business owner in New Jersey gained huge popularity in his short four-month run in the GOP primary.
While Rizzo did not take the GOP nomination and have a chance to face off against Governor Phil Murphy, he was able to raise over $650,000.00 and gained the attention of pundits across the state. Rizzo is now running for Congressman in NJ’s 7th Legislative District, and faces Thomas Kean Jr. in the primaries.
The primaries are scheduled to be held June 7, 2022, and early voting has started for those that are enrolled to get absentee ballots.
Rizzo’s main opponent, Kean, had previously run against incumbent Democrat Tom Malinowski in 2020, and lost by 1.2% of votes.
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Last year when Rizzo was running for Governor, I had the chance to interview him, which was published here at AmmoLand News. The key takeaways of my conversation with Rizzo were that he certainly shows an outward support for the Second Amendment. Rizzo, a NJ concealed carry permit holder himself at that time, pledged his unwavering support for carry. He outlined his plan then to me if he were governor:
When I asked him about carry permits in the Garden State, he basically said this would be a non-issue should he take office.
I’m encouraging people to get their Florida non-resident carry permits…
He said this came at the heels of the shooting in Texas when an armed member of the security team stopped a threat to congregants. The result was one loss of innocent life but the situation could have gotten much worse had the shooter not been neutralized.
Once people saw the video they started to understand how important the right to self-protect is. So, I started with ministry leaders, pastors, deacons, all these different people at churches. And it grew to friends, family, and business owners. After they came to the range and got training for the CCW, everyone’s statement was “well does that let me carry in New Jersey?” I’d tell them “No.”…Under a Rizzo administration, I will bypass the liberal legislature, and I work with Governor DeSantis to sign reciprocity in New Jersey, where people with their non-resident Florida concealed carry will be able to carry in New Jersey. That will happen immediately in the first 100 days of a Rizzo administration.
That was Rizzo’s plan for the citizens of New Jersey to get the opportunity to carry in their own home state. Serious outside-of-the-box thinking. Rizzo also expanded on his view, which I noted last year, in a piece I did covering the primary debate:
Because of New Jersey’s election law, even though Rizzo would have qualified to be in the debate, he was unable to due to a reporting deadline he could not make. In the spirit of fairness, Bill Spadea, also from NJ101.5, interviewed Rizzo after the debate. In the interview, Spadea asked the same exact questions asked of Citarelli and Singh, without Rizzo knowing them in advance. When Rizzo was asked the “justifiable need” question he responded.
Justifiable need is one of the most arbitrary ridiculous things when it comes to the Second Amendment. I believe in the Second Amendment as it’s written in the Bill of Rights and absolutely justifiable need had hindered people from their right to self protect. And that’s been going on far too long in New Jersey.
Rizzo gave me some of his time the other day and we chatted about his current run in the GOP primary for Congressman. We covered a lot of the current cause celeb which are raging on in 2022 United States. I’m going to put out some of the highlights of what we spoke about, but also include the recording of our conversation for readers to get a more complete look at what we talked about. Some of the questions and answers have been edited for clarity and ease of reading, but not substance.
Petrolino: What are you seeing now on a federal level as our biggest challenges as gun owners and for the preservation of the Second Amendment?
Rizzo: Well, I believe that national reciprocity is eminent. Obviously I’d like to see constitutional carry. I think that’s a little bit of a more difficult legislation to get through, constitutional carry. I know that purple and blue areas would not necessarily be open to that. But national reciprocity…I mean, you get a driver’s license in New Jersey, and you get to drive everywhere in the country. So if you can get a concealed carry [permit] in any state, you should have national reciprocity to carry in any state.
When I asked Rizzo about the current boogieman to the anti-freedom caucus, so-called “ghost guns”, he responded in part with:
As far as “ghost guns”, I mean, I am for the right to have guns, whether a manufacturer builds them or you build them yourself. I use the vehicle driver’s license as my example. You could buy a car, or you could build a car. I mean, come on, why does the manufacturer have to do it? I feel like it’s just a way to sort of keep tabs on the Second Amendment community, to know what they’re doing and to know where they are. And really, it’s an interesting position that the government’s taking, because that doesn’t really exist on any other level. – Philip Rizzo
Rizzo and I covered more topics that most Second Amendment supporters would like to know his stance on. What legislation he’d introduce, his stance on semi-automatic rifle restrictions, what he’d say to NJ lawmakers and Phil Murphy about their “gun control” schemes, and more below:
Petrolino: Should you be elected, and you do take a seat as Congressman, what kind of legislation do you see yourself putting out? And supporting, other than say, national reciprocity is obviously a good one…and I don’t know too many people in our camp that would disagree with that…so what else would you see yourself putting out?
Rizzo: I think it’s sort of a fine line, right? Because obviously, the Second Amendment, within the Bill of Rights is national right. But the argument from the other side would be state sovereignty. So living in New Jersey, we have the ten round magazine capacity. I would love to see legislation that says you cannot restrict the manufacturer’s magazine capacity. Now, there would be theoretically some pushback on that, saying “Well, you’re violating the state’s sovereignty, you’re violating states rights,” but I don’t think a state can violate the Second Amendment. So that would sort of be our argument, counter argument. And then back again, I would love to be able to see people be able to buy a firearm and the magazine that comes with it, that’s the one you can use, without having a state reach in and become overbearing. I don’t think a person’s right to the Second Amendment should be based on the state they live in.
Petrolino: Some other hot topics that we have right now is, you know, I mentioned the ATF. And basically, I’m of the opinion that the ATF is being weaponized. And they’re kind of running, what I would say is “rogue.” As far as their rulemaking goes, and the way that they’ve been enforcing the regulations that are on the books right now, what is your opinion of how the ATF is currently operating? What would you do with the ATF? Or what kind of legislation would you suggest or solutions to either change it, keep it make it better make it worse? To talk to me about that dynamic?
Rizzo: As not having held office, I am still an outsider, and I am seeing the bureaucracy, you know, it sort of is running roughshod. It’s sort of swings with the pendulum of the administration. So, you know, that goes through the ATF, it goes into environmental, it goes into every area. I don’t know, if there is a particular way…obviously, we would try to pass laws to keep them under control. But if we lose the White House, and nobody’s going to enforce anything, the laws are broken every day. And we were watching that. I think that’s the frustration of the American people is there are rules on the books, there are laws on the books, and people are not following that. They’re breaking laws. There’s no accountability, and everything’s becoming politicized, and weaponized, and so I really feel like you know…taking full control, getting some things with the House, the Senate and I think it’s gonna have to be in 2024, the change of White House…then I think we can get some more iron clad legislation that has voted for harsh penalties for bureaucrats that break the law. We’re not going to have to wait for the Department of Justice under a liberal president to go execute judgment, there’s going to have to be another way to enforce the law.
Petrolino: We touched on a couple of things that you and I spoke about last year, like, carry reciprocity, you obviously said you’re a fan of permitless carry or constitutional carry, where we shouldn’t have to have a permit to carry or magazine capacities as well. Just for my readers, what about any limitations on semi-automatic firearms, like AR’s, AR platforms, and states that are currently usurping people’s rights by putting restrictions on those firearms?
Rizzo: No, not at all. There’s nothing in the federal law that, within the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, that should have those restrictions. And again, I don’t think that there should be those things within individual states that take firearms of a particular platform away from the citizenry of that state. I’m speaking from the position of New Jersey, we are dealing with that on a regular basis under Phil Murphy. We have a liberal legislator, we have the worst governor in America. And we deal with this sort of oppression all the time. And my opinion is it’s unconstitutional. The Bill of Rights is there and as a former pastor, the First Amendment…listen, that’s why we dumped tea, right? In the harbor. Because we don’t believe that the preachers needed to pay their “preachers tax,” their license to preach. We weren’t going to pay that tax back to England. We were just going to preach. And so the First Amendment doesn’t have limitations on it. As a former pastor, I could speak confidently on that. As a gun enthusiast and supporter of the Bill of Rights, [the] Second Amendment, my position is exactly the same.
Petrolino: Absolutely. Is there anything that you would say, you know, to New Jersey? What would you say to Phil Murphy about the gun laws that we have, or the legislature as a whole?
Rizzo: I mean, I’d love to see the federal government take the reins on them. Again, I believe they are overreaching. I believe that they are violating…they’re restricting the constitutional rights that we have as American citizens. People say, “Well, it passed the legislator, and it was signed into law.” Well, they can’t pass illegal laws. I mean, I still, I feel that we are going to be able to rein them in this red wave of 2022. I personally believe is real. I believe it’s coming. And when it does, Phil Murphy and the New Jersey legislature, we’re going to take the rattle away from the baby, because they don’t know what they’re doing. It’s time the grown ups take control of the room.
Petrolino: And just to wrap things up. Phil, what message do you have for for my readers? What message do you have for the voters in the district? Take the floor.
Rizzo: Well, there’s a clear distinction in this Republican primary, no doubt about it. I am the conservative in the race, there is no other choice. Tom Kean has vote after vote after vote to take away our Second Amendment rights. We spent a lot of money researching his votes…researching votes in the New Jersey legislature. And we built an entire website to put out there for the voters, so that they understand who Tom Kean is when it comes to the Second Amendment. If you go to Real Tom Kean dot com, there’s a voting record. Drop down that drop down, go to the Second Amendment, and look at the votes that he has. He has voted “yes” to take away our rights as New Jersey citizens. If anybody is a Second Amendment enthusiast in the district, and they go to Real Tom Kean dot com, Phil Rizzo’s getting their vote. Make no mistake about it.
Petrolino: Phil, I really appreciate your time. Where can people find you? How can they reach out to you? How can they help you? How can they help your campaign?
Rizzo: We need some more money. And we need some more door knockers. I mean, that’s what campaigns are all about, dollars and doors, right? You gotta be able to knock doors, and you gotta get enough money to put mailers and digital ads on the doors you don’t knock. So dollars and doors. That’s what we need help with. People can reach out to our campaign through all social media platforms, Jersey Rizzo. And also our campaign website, Jersey Rizzo dot com.
I’ll repeat something I said last year when I interviewed Rizzo:
I don’t personally know Phil Rizzo. I had the opportunity to chat with him earlier in the year the day after he announced he was throwing his hat in the race. Our off-the-record conversation was enough for me to want to follow up with him. After talking with him again today, I feel he is a Second Amendment friendly. One of the benefits of Rizzo running is that [he] is not a politician. But since he does not have any type of policy or voting record, there is no way to confirm what he has to say. If New Jersey gun owners are looking for some sort of a rating on firearms, Rizzo would get an A? in my book. Rizzo self-identified as a “Constitutionalist” in our chat. He certainly is talking the talk when it comes to Second Amendment freedoms and was willing to be put on record.
I haven’t had a chance to interview any of the other candidates for either the primary or general election, but happily would should the opportunity arise. Be sure to check out the video containing our full conversation HERE or in the embed. While there’s a lot covered in this article, that’s not everything we spoke about, so give a look and a listen if you have some time.
John Petrolino is a US Merchant Marine Officer, writer, author of Decoding Firearms: An Easy to Read Guide on General Gun Safety & Use and NRA certified pistol, rifle, and shotgun instructor living under and working to change New Jersey’s draconian and unconstitutional gun laws. You can find him on the web at www.johnpetrolino.com on twitter at @johnpetrolino, facebook at @thepenpatriot and on instagram @jpetrolinoiii .