The gun violence epidemic continues to plague our state and our nation. Tragically, guns remain a leading cause of death in our country:
- More than 33,000 people died in gun-related deaths in 2014 alone.
- In 2015, New Jersey saw a 4 percent increase in homicides. The vast majority of these violent crimes involve a firearm — over 70 percent from 2012 to 2014, the last three years for which we have data.
- Most tragically, dozens of people were killed last year in accidental gun deaths in which the shooter was five years old or younger — deaths that personalized, smart gun technology would prevent.
The gun violence epidemic is nothing short of a public health crisis. And yet, Governor Christie continues to stand in the way of sensible reforms. He has vetoed bills that had universal support from New Jerseyans. These bipartisan measures would have kept guns out of the hands of gang members and individuals convicted of making terroristic threats, restricted the size of gun magazines, and prohibited the sale of a powerful .50-caliber rifle — a ban Governor Christie himself proposed in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy.
Governor Christie even vetoed a bill that would have required gun retailers to carry at least one personalized, smart gun once it became commercially available. Smart gun technology would prevent unauthorized individuals from using a firearm. Only the NRA opposes adopting this technology, and in following its lead, Governor Christie’s hypocrisy shows through: he publicly defends the right to buy seemingly every gun on the market — except the one that will actually keep our children safe.
Governor Christie’s continued opposition to sensible gun safety regulations does not protect our Second Amendment rights. It simply makes us less safe.
The evidence is clear: the five states with the lowest rates of gun violence — Hawaii, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut — all have among the strictest gun safety regulations in the nation. Conversely, the states with the highest rates of gun violence all have weak gun safety regulations.
A truly comprehensive answer to reducing gun violence must come from the federal government. Yet that is not an excuse for inaction. When Phil Murphy is governor, New Jersey will be a national role model and we will lead this fight. Phil believes that sensible regulations can prevent gun violence while still preserving Second Amendment rights for law-abiding residents.
Specifically, as governor Phil Murphy would:
- Sign commonsense legislation that Christie vetoed: Phil Murphy would start by signing every piece of gun violence prevention legislation that Governor Christie has vetoed. These bills would have enacted bipartisan and sensible solutions, such as keeping guns out of the hands of gang members and domestic abusers.
- Mandate gun safety training: No one should be able to purchase a firearm without first attending a gun safety training course.
- Promote smart gun technology: We must regain our position as a leader in the smart gun movement by requiring all gun retailers to carry at least one smart gun once they are commercially available.
- Keep guns out of the hands of those suffering with mental illness: New Jersey already requires background checks, but it should follow the lead of nearly half the states in the U.S. and require timely reporting of mental illness episodes to the national background check database.
- Tax gun sales to prevent violence: All gun sales should be subject to a tax that will fund law enforcement, drug treatment centers, and mental health services.
- Strengthen regulations on gun transfers: Phil Murphy would make it a crime to sell guns without conducting a mandatory background check, and would require individuals to register their firearms kept in the state.
- Work with neighboring states to promote gun violence prevention: An estimated 80 percent of guns involved in crimes in New Jersey come from out of state. As governor, Phil Murphy will engage partners in neighboring states to find common ground on gun violence prevention efforts.
- Direct the Attorney General to vigorously defend our gun laws: Governor Christie has allowed the Attorney General’s office to relax enforcement of our gun safety laws, including laws that prohibit illegally transporting guns into New Jersey from out of state. As governor, Phil Murphy would direct the Attorney General to vigorously defend and enforce our gun laws, rather than to act as an agent of the NRA.