New Jersey's Gun Control Laws Aren't Stopping Shootings

In order to become a legal gun owner in the Garden State, residents have to apply to their local police department in order to receive either a Firearms ID card (valid for purchases of long guns) or a pistol purchase permit (which allows an individual to purchase one handgun). The process can be extensive, and can even require applicants to submit character references to their local police department before they get their permission slip to exercise a constitutional right.

The process to obtain a license to carry is even more onerous, and only a handful of people in the state currently possess a carry license. Despite those barriers to legal gun ownership, or maybe because of them, there are still plenty of guns in the hands of criminals in New Jersey, and the state’s draconian gun control laws aren’t doing anything to reduce the increasing levels of violence in the state.

From 2010 through 2019, Paterson averaged 88 shootings per year, with an average of 103 victims, including 15 fatalities, according to city statistics. This year’s shooting incidents mark a 22% increase over the past decade, and the number of victims is almost 40% higher.

“It’s been a tough year, but it’s not unique to Paterson,” Col. Patrick J. Callahan, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, said in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. “This is something that’s occurring in large cities across the country.”

Callahan said New Jersey has endured a 25% increase in shootings compared with this same time in 2019, while the number of homicides from gun violence is 35% higher.

How can this be? Shouldn’t the state’s restrictive gun laws be preventing criminals from illegally obtaining firearms and using them in robberies, carjackings, home invasions, and drive-by shootings?

Clearly New Jersey’s gun control laws aren’t having the impact on violent criminals that anti-gun politicians promise, and with the state’s criminal courts once again going dark because of COVID-19 concerns, criminals who are busted for a gun-related offense will likely be put right back out on the street. In fact, the state has already released more than 2,000 inmates from New Jersey jails and prisons, and officials say the population behind bars will be cut by 35% within the next four months.

Meanwhile, the average resident in Paterson, or Trenton, or Camden still faces almost insurmountable challenges if they attempt to become a legal gun owner. In addition to navigating the maze of red tape imposed by the state, applicants are being forced to wait for months in many cases before they’re approved or denied, stuck in a legal limbo while the criminals who ignore the law continue to wage war on their communities with their illegally obtained firearms.

This is a recipe for disaster, and we’re already watching it play out across the state. Real lives are being impacted, real people are unable to protect their families, and real criminals are getting away with murder thanks to the state’s backwards and bizarre priorities.