Smith, a Republican who is seeking his 21st term, has a history of voting against his party when it comes to gun legislation. He is opposed by Stephanie Schmid, a Democrat and attorney. The district straddles parts of Monmouth, Ocean and Mercer counties.
“He’s demonstrated a thoughtful approach to the (gun) issues and he understands that passing reasonable, responsible and comprehensible legislation can save lives. We think he’s worthy of our endorsement,” said Brian Lemek, the executive director of the Brady PAC.
The PAC is the sister organization to the Brady group, one of the nation’s oldest gun violence prevention grassroots advocacy organizations. Brady is named for the late James Brady, former White House press secretary for President Ronald Reagan who was disabled from a gunshot wound during the 1981 attempted assassination of Reagan. He died in 2014 and his death was ruled a homicide from the gunshot wound.
The PAC, which Lemek said intends to spend about $1.5 million in endorsements this election cycle, “backs candidates running for state and federal office who support universal background checks, reenacting the assault weapons ban, extreme risk protection orders, and enacting other common-sense gun violence prevention laws,” according to its website.
In 1993, Smith voted in favor of the Brady Hand Gun bill that required a five-day waiting period before the purchase of a handgun so that a background check on the purchaser can be performed.
Last year Smith voted in favor of the Enhanced Background Checks, a bill that requires stronger background check procedures to be followed before a federal firearms licensee may transfer a firearm to a person who is not such a licensee.
He was one of only three Republicans to vote “yes.” The bill has not passed the senate.
Smith is only the second Republican Brady PAC has endorsed this election cycle. US. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania is the other.
Lemek said there are several key pieces of gun legislation they want to pass, including closing the “Charleston loophole,” which allows some firearms to be transferred by licensed gun dealers before a background check has been done.
In 2015, Dylann Roof use the loophole to buy a gun and kill nine people at Mother Emanuel Church, a black church in Charleston, South Carolina.
“We would hope that Smith would support this legislation and vote ‘yes,'” Lemek said.