February 13, 2018 — Today, Giffords, the gun safety organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly, joined New Jersey lawmakers and local leaders to highlight how the state can continue to lead the way in reducing gun violence. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Majority Leader Louis Greenwald led a discussion that how to make New Jersey communities safer.
“Together, we can pass gun safety laws that have been vetoed in the past and reclaim our place as a state that acts on facts and common sense,” said Governor Murphy. “We must again become a state that values the safety of our residents and communities over the misguided priorities of the gun lobby.”
“Throughout my time in the Assembly I’ve worked to keep our communities safe from gun violence. I’ve sponsored legislation to lower magazine capacity to 10 rounds, supported smart gun production and sales in state, worked to create gun buyback programs, and pushed for stronger background checks,” said Majority Leader Greenwald. “Now is the time for us to take action and promote common sense gun reform.”
“The level of gun violence plaguing America is not normal – it’s an epidemic,” said Nico Bocour, State Legislative Director at Giffords. “Leaders in New Jersey are embracing the kinds of policies that will continue to keep them on the forefront of solving this crisis. Giffords is honored to participate in today’s forum and applauds Governor Phil Murphy and Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald for their courage and commitment to taking action to protect New Jersey families and communities from gun violence.”
Giffords is supporting a number of legislative initiatives that could be signed into law this year in New Jersey. Those include:
Establishing an Extreme Risk Protection Order
The Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) is a civil court order issued by a judge upon consideration of evidence provided by a family member or law enforcement officer that temporarily prohibits a person in crisis from possessing or purchasing firearms or ammunition. A common thread in many shootings is that family members of the shooters had noticed their loved ones engaging in dangerous behaviors and were concerned about their risk of harming themselves or others – even before any violence occurred.
Giffords has backed the introduction of ERPO bills in states like New York this year. In 2017, Oregon’s Governor signed Senate Bill 719 into law, creating a process for obtaining an ERPO. Leading up the signing, members of the Giffords Oregon Coalition testified on behalf of the bill and urged Oregon leaders to pass it.
Closing Background Check Loopholes
The Gun Control Act of 1968 made it illegal for prohibited purchasers, such as convicted felons, to purchase or possess firearms, and in 1993, the Brady Act strengthened this law by requiring background checks on gun purchases. But the Brady Act only requires background checks for sales by licensed firearms dealers. Unlicensed sellers, whether they do business online, at gun shows, or from the trunk of their car, are not required to conduct background checks on gun buyers.
Background checks save lives. In states that require background checks for all handgun sales 47% fewer women are shot to death by their intimate partners, there are 53% fewer firearm suicides, and 53% fewer law enforcement officers are shot to death by handguns. Background checks are also overwhelmingly popular. A recent poll taken after the Las Vegas shooting found 94% of Americans support universal background checks for all gun sales, including 93% of gun owners.
Supporting Urban Gun Violence Research
Giffords is supporting research and programs in places like New Jersey to fight urban gun violence in order to help save lives and lessen the economic impact of gun violence. Last December, Giffords Law Center, in partnership with PICO National Network and the Community Justice Reform Coalition, released a landmark report, Investing in Intervention: The Critical Role of State-Level Support in Breaking the Cycle of Urban Gun Violence, which highlights innovative programs in three states that dramatically reduce levels of gun violence in impacted communities.