New Jersey’s gun safety 2.0 package includes legislation that provides support for evidence-based programs that will prevent gun violence in New Jersey cities and legislation to help bring personalized firearms to market
June 20, 2019 — Giffords, the gun violence prevention organization led by former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, applauded the New Jersey Legislature for passing a new package of bills that builds on effective measures the state previously adopted to address the country’s gun violence crisis. The legislation proposed by Assembly Majority Leader Greenwald, developed in collaboration with Giffords Law Center, includes the establishment of a fund for evidence-based violence prevention programs that will assist the communities most impacted by gun violence. The package also includes a bill championed by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg that would change New Jersey’s current law on personalized handguns and help bring safer firearms to market.
“For countless families and communities in New Jersey, the threat of gun violence never goes away,” said Nico Bocour, state legislative director at Giffords. “The package of bills passed today is a recommitment by state officials to pass effective gun safety laws and to listen to demands for action. We applaud Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg for their efforts to spreadhead this lifesaving package of bills. Because of their tireless work, New Jersey will continue to be a nationwide leader in taking the necessary steps to keep their state safe from the gun violence epidemic.”
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.
Still, 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. New Jersey’s gun safety 2.0 package builds on these successes by introducing legislation that will:
- 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.
- 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. Hospital-based violence intervention programs (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 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.
- Help bring safer firearms to market. Gun safety technology includes personalized guns and accessories such as gun safes, trigger locks, and retrofit kits that let owners secure their guns from access by unauthorized users. This package includes a revision to New Jersey’s personalized firearm law that will help bring gun safety technology to market. Personalized guns let owners control who accesses their gun using biometric security methods, such as fingerprint sensors, and radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology, which uses radio waves to identify objects. Personalized accessories, like a fingerprint trigger lock, add an extra layer of security to gun safes or locks. When used with traditional guns, they offer a similar level of security to personalized guns.
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 directly measurable 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.