Washington DC — Giffords, the gun violence prevention organization led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, applauded Governor Phil Murphy and Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald for bringing into law legislation to create and fund the New Jersey Violence Intervention Program (NJVIP).
“New Jersey has been among the national leaders in passing strong gun laws and lawmakers here understand it’s a crisis that requires continued action,” said Nico Bocour, state legislative director at Giffords. “Now, they are taking the next step by providing support to cities and neighborhoods trying to intervene with individuals before they turn to a gun. The NJ Violence Intervention Program will help fund lifesaving gun violence prevention programs in the Garden State’s most impacted communities. We would like to thank Governor Murphy and Majority Leader Lou Greenwald for their continued courage and commitment to fight to save lives.”
“When we talk about gun violence, the focus is often on deadly mass shootings. The unfortunate truth is more and more of our communities are experiencing day to day shootings as a result of the gun violence epidemic that we see in our country,” said Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Burlington, Camden). “Research has shown that evidence-based violence intervention programs, like what we’re seeing at University Hospital in Newark, can reduce gun violence rates and break the cycles of violence in our communities. By investing in these programs, which provide intensive counseling, case management, and social services to victims of gun violence, we can end the cycles of gun violence that plague our communities.”
The NJVIP 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.
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.