Press Release

Giffords Applauds Majority Leader Lou Greenwald for Introducing Lifesaving Legislative Package to Address Urban Gun Violence in New Jersey

NJ 2.0 Package provides the Garden State funding for evidence-based programs that will prevent urban gun violence

Legislation solidifies New Jersey as a nationwide leader in fighting gun violence 

December 7, 2018 — Giffords, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Representative Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Captain Mark Kelly, applauded Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald for introducing a new package of bills that builds on effective measures New Jersey already passed to address the country’s gun violence crisis. Through collaboration with the Giffords Law Center, the legislation proposed by Majority Leader Greenwald includes funds for evidence-based violence prevention programs that will assist the communities most impacted by gun violence. While New Jersey is still a nationwide leader in fighting gun violence, a report from Giffords Law Center found the problem still costs New Jersey taxpayers $273 million every year.

“Each day, too many families in New Jersey wake up expecting to hear the sound of gunfire – and live with the constant fear of losing a loved one,” said Mike McLively, director of the Urban Gun Violence Initiative at Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “Underserved areas are reeling from gun violence that is overwhelmingly concentrated in communities of color. In fact, just 5 cities in New Jersey account for more than half of total homicides. The good news is that we know by working with local leaders and community organizations in neighborhoods that are hurting, we can dramatically reduce gun violence and save lives in the process.  The handful of states already making this investment, including New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, are seeing impressive results—bringing relief and progress, not through a heavy-handed approach, but working directly with individuals that need resources. We applaud Assembly Majority Leader Greenwald and Governor Murphy for strategically directing critical resources to the state’s most impacted communities.”

“Gun violence is a public health crisis both in our state and our country. Many hospitals see a ‘revolving door’ of gunshot injuries, as patients who have been shot are at a very high risk of being re-injured or committing other acts of violence themselves,” saidMajority Leader Louis Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). “Hospital and community based violence intervention programs can help to break the cycles of violence and retaliation. This multi-pronged approach is designed to remove barriers, improve outcomes for victims and will make New Jersey a leader in gun violence prevention.”

Because of effective policies implemented by state officials New Jersey has a gun death rate half the national average. This new package of bills furthers that record and solidifies New Jersey as one of the top national leaders in addressing gun violence. NJ 2.0 Package builds on these successes by introducing legislation that will:

  1.   Create and Fund the New Jersey Violence Intervention Program (NJVIP).This bill will help launch and enhance violence reduction initiatives in communities impacted by interpersonal gun violence. Modeled after effective state grant programs in Massachusetts and New York, the New Jersey Violence Intervention Program would provide competitive multi-year grants to cities and non-profit organizations implementing effective, evidence-based violence intervention initiatives.
  2.     Create the Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Program Initiative.In many cities, hospitals see a “revolving door” of gunshot injury, since patients who have been shot are at a very high risk of being shot again and of perpetrating retaliatory violence.  HVIPs work with gunshot patients in and after their admission to the hospital to interrupt these cycles of violence. Yet, these programs are currently only operating in two of our state’s hospitals. This package includes legislation to direct the Office on Minority and Multicultural Health to lead a new initiative to promote and coordinate implementation of hospital-based violence intervention programs (HVIPs) across the state. It also requires the state’s victim counseling service centers to create new partnerships with hospital trauma centers to connect gunshot patients with HVIPs and similar violence prevention programs.
  3.     Provide that Medicaid and the Victims of Crime Compensation Agency will cover the cost of violence prevention counseling services for gunshot victims.A large share of gunshot victimshave health insurance through Medicaid, meaning that the state health insurance program has an important role to play in violence prevention efforts. In order to ensure that more gunshot patients receive violence prevention counseling services, this bill would require the state Medicaid program to cover violence prevention counseling services provided to Medicaid-eligible gunshot patients. This package would also authorize the state Victims of Crime Compensation Agency to reimburse violence prevention counselors for providing services to victims of gun violence who are not eligible for Medicaid or whose insurance does not otherwise cover those services.

Related Resources:

REPORT: New Jersey Gun Violence Impact Analysis and Policy Audit

REPORT: Investing in Intervention: The Critical Role of State-Level Support in Breaking the Cycle of Urban Gun Violence 

REPORT: Economic Cost of Gun Violence in New Jersey
This comprehensive report released recently by Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, notes that local businesses are severely impacted when gun violence occurs, as shootings keep customers and tourists away and often limit hours of operation. On average, there are 2,014 shootings in New Jersey each year, resulting in directlymeasurable costs of over $1.2 billion annually. That includes:

  • Healthcare costs: $93 million
  • Law enforcement and criminal justice expenses: $131 million
  • Costs to employers: $8 million
  • Lost income: $918 million

Much of this tab is picked up by the public. Up to 85% of gunshot victims, for example, are either uninsured or on some form of publicly funded insurance. Additionally, law enforcement efforts are funded entirely by taxpayer dollars. As a result, the direct annual cost of gun violence to New Jersey taxpayers is approximately $273 million.

Even more striking, when indirect costs that impact families and communities are factored in, the overall estimate of the economic cost of gun violence rises to $3.3 billion per year.

REPORT: Securing a Safer Future: How Incentives for Gun Safety Technology Can Stop Shootings