N.J. to firearms dealers: Embrace gun safety rules or risk losing our business

Sep 11, 2019

New Jersey officials are telling firearms manufacturers and dealers to back certain gun safety measures — or risk losing the state as a lucrative customer.

The novel strategy is the latest salvo in Gov. Phil Murphy’s ongoing effort to make the state’s gun control policies even tougher.

Gov. Phil Murphy took a new strategy to push tougher gun control measures. (Edwin J. Torres/Governor's Office)

At a press conference Tuesday, Murphy said he would use the state’s substantial purchasing power as leverage to nudge private firms into backing policies he said would reduce gun violence.

“We cannot let taxpayers unwittingly pad the pockets of anyone whose business practices may make the jobs of law enforcement even more dangerous or put our residents in harm’s way,” the Democrat said.

Murphy’s executive order requires the state to ask firearms retailers from which it buys guns and ammunition if they have certain policies, such as safeguards against straw purchases. Officials said the state recently spent $70 million on guns, ammunition, and spare parts for law enforcement officers.

The state will also ask financial institutions it does business with whether they have a code of conduct regarding gun safety. Murphy said the state pays around $1 billion in fees to banks each year.

Under the executive order, the administration will also go after insurance policies that Murphy said encourage the improper use of firearms.

Second Amendment advocates have long criticized Murphy’s gun control efforts for targeting law-abiding gun owners rather than criminals.

But New Jersey State Police Col. Patrick Callahan shot down the criticism that the strategies announced Tuesday would harm public safety.

“I know there’s some rhetoric out there that thinks law enforcement would be jeopardized by certain things,” he said. “I personally and professionally do not believe that.”