Out-of-state guns are bad for N.J. business

This is about an area of commerce we don’t usually address. You might call it a supply-chain issue. Indeed, it’s about a pipeline. The Iron Pipeline.

We’re talking about guns. Specifically, the guns that flow into New Jersey from out of state that are used here to cause pain, injury and death.

And, since ROI-NJ is a business publication, we will note that, in addition to the obvious personal pain caused by these guns, they also fuel negative impressions of the state and a climate of fear, neither of which are particularly good for the economy. Not only does crime not pay, it costs all of us — in myriad ways.

This is one supply chain that needs to be broken.

That’s why we’re big fans of Gov. Phil Murphy’s new NJGUNStat program, which recently issued its first report, just a little more than a month after Murphy announced it.

The point of NJGUNStat, Murphy freely admits, is to “name and shame” states whose lenient gun laws fuel a pipeline that illegally funnels guns into New Jersey, where restrictions on legal gun sales are much stricter.

The program produces monthly and quarterly reports on gun violence, most notably tracing weapons used in crimes in New Jersey to their state of origin. The initial report, based on the first three months of 2018, showed that 77 percent of the 542 guns police were able to trace were initially sold in other states. Eighty-three of the guns came from Pennsylvania, 59 from Georgia, 58 from North Carolina, 47 from Virginia, 42 from South Carolina and 24 from Florida. An additional twenty-six states also provided guns that were used to commit crimes in New Jersey.

Interestingly, the same day Murphy released the first NJGUNStat report, a Pennsylvania man was charged in Bergen County with illegally selling assault rifles to New Jersey residents after buying the weapons in his home state.

Opinions on gun laws, of course, run strong. These opinions — on both sides — are firmly entrenched. Little seems likely to change these opinions. But you can’t argue with data, and NJGUNStat clearly shows that New Jersey pays a heavy price for other states’ leniency on guns.

In April, 93 people were shot in New Jersey, 17 fatally, according to the first NJGUNStat report. “The guns don’t come from New Jersey, for the most part, and people need to know that,” said Fred Guttenberg, who lost a daughter in the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting and who appeared alongside Murphy at a news conference.

That’s the value of this program — pounding home the point that tougher gun laws can make a difference.

Murphy also recently named former Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey executive Bill Castner to be a senior adviser on firearms issues. Murphy is committed to this issue. Castner is passionate about it. And NJGUNStat will complement that commitment and passion with dispassionate statistics that tell the incontrovertible story of gun violence in New Jersey: We pay for other states’ laxity.

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