NJ's extensive gun control didn't stop gun trafficking ring

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

The state of New Jersey has extensive gun control laws on the books and they’re considering still more. They don’t trust their residents with firearms and if they had their way about it, guns would probably be banned throughout the state.


Which, of course, makes it a prime candidate for gun trafficking.

After all, if there is a demand for a good, someone will supply it. It doesn’t matter if that demand is for a lawful product or not, if there’s a profit to be made, someone will try to make it.

In fact, despite all of those gun control laws, it seems recent arrests illustrate just how little the laws do to actually prevent gun trafficking.

Nine members of a Paterson gun trafficking ring were among 15 people indicted on various charges for their roles in bringing more than 120 firearms from South Carolina to New Jersey, state officials announced.

The investigation dismantled the criminal enterprise, took 12 guns off the street — including an assault rifle – and led to charges against the alleged leader of the trafficking ring, Travis Thomas, 41, of South Carolina, Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin said.

Five of his gun suppliers in South Carolina, and nine “middlemen” who allegedly helped broker the sale of guns in Paterson were also indicted, Platkin said.

A press release from Platkin’s office details just how the ring worked:

According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court, Thomas, allegedly organized and directed various individuals in South Carolina to procure guns for him to transport and sell in NJ.  Thomas would reach out to his suppliers to ask what firearms they could get for him, and they would obtain the guns through street buys from other individuals. Thomas would then send photos of the firearms to his middlemen in Paterson and tell them how much money he was charging for each gun. Thomas routinely sold guns in New Jersey for three times what he had paid for them in South Carolina. The middlemen would then shop the photos around Paterson for buyers, increasing the prices to ensure their own profit.

Three of the guns allegedly trafficked into Paterson by Thomas were later found in the possession of individuals under arrest on narcotics distribution charges. A fourth gun was used in the attempted robbery of a ride-share driver in Paterson and was recovered by police when the gunman left it behind at the scene.

“Trafficked guns undermine the strong laws New Jersey has enacted to keep its residents safe from the carnage of gun violence,” said Attorney General Platkin. “It didn’t take long for weapons allegedly trafficked into Paterson by these defendants to make their way into the hands of individuals engaged in criminal conduct, including an armed robbery. I commend the New Jersey State Police for its work in shutting down this criminal enterprise and arresting the individuals allegedly operating it. The residents of Paterson and surrounding communities are no doubt sleeping better for it.”


However, I’m sure Platkin has this all wrong.

Gun trafficking couldn’t happen in New Jersey. It’s illegal, after all, and we all know that gun control laws totally work.

In all seriousness though, gun trafficking is always going to be a problem. Yet, for many, the issue here is that South Carolina doesn’t have enough laws, not that New Jersey has repeatedly failed to address the real problem.

That’s not the case, though. Even if you enact New Jersey’s laws at the federal level, you’d still get gun trafficking. The only difference is where those guns would originate.

Think about it. We aren’t known for poppy production here in the US, so where do the opioids fueling the opioid epidemic come from? While pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies may have played a role in it initially, a lot of the drugs being used aren’t even legal anymore, yet people are still getting their hands on them.

Does anyone think guns won’t come in from a similar source?

Gun control doesn’t prevent gun trafficking. It encourages it, so it’s no surprise that New Jersey has an issue with it.

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