More than three-quarters of the guns used in crimes in New Jersey over the first quarter of the year came from outside its borders, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday.
Murphy unveiled the data, which he called for under an executive order he signed in April, alongside the father of a Parkland, Florida, high school student who was slain in this year’s fatal gun attack. The reports are part of the governor’s effort at tightening New Jersey’s already-strict firearms law.
Fred Guttenberg’s daughter Jaime was among the 17 killed in the February shooting. Guttenberg has been traveling the country pushing for what he called common-sense gun laws.
“Every other state should follow the lead of your governor,” Guttenberg said.
New Jersey has among the strictest gun legislation in the country, and Murphy has pledged to sign into law a package of six bills moving through the Democrat-led Legislature.
The new report, based on a combination of information from the New Jersey State Police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, shows that 77 percent of the firearms used in crimes came from out of the state.
In the first quarter of 2018, 83 firearms recovered in crimes originally were purchased in Pennsylvania, more than from any other state. Dozens of other weapons initially were purchased in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Murphy said part of the goal of the report was to “name and shame” states that have more lax firearms laws than New Jersey.
“We are providing crucial information to our residents and leaders so they have a fuller understanding of the impact of gun violence and the effects of firearms trafficking experienced in our state,” Murphy said.
Gun rights advocates criticized the reports. The Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, which is affiliated with the National Rifle Association, said the data was focused on influencing policy in other states.
“The reporting is entirely one-sided, and completely ignores reporting of the hundreds of thousands of times each year nationwide that the mere presence of a legal firearm stops crime, often without a shot fired,” the groups said in a statement.
The new report comes just a day before a planned meeting among different states that last month formed a regional gun violence coalition. Murphy said the states are planning to meet in Trenton on Wednesday.
In April, the governors of Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Delaware and Puerto Rico unveiled the consortium whose goal is making progress on gun-control where the federal government has not.
Also attending Tuesday’s event were state police acting superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, along with Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg.