New Jersey already has some of the toughest gun control laws in the nation, but Gov. Phil Murphy intends to make them even tougher.

At a news conference in Trenton on Monday, Murphy announced Bill Castner, the former chief counsel for former Gov. Jon Corzine, will serve as his senior adviser on firearms.

The governor said Castner will serve “as an additional back-stop, overseeing our work” on "common sense" gun control, and on gun violence prevention initiatives.

Murphy said gun violence takes a huge emotional and economic toll on our communities.

“We can have common sense gun safety laws that are fully respectful of the Second Amendment. We need more of this way of thinking,” he said.

Murphy said smart, comprehensive gun safety laws “do much more to improve our communities, and keep them free of gun violence than the guns-on-every-street-corner thinking of the gun lobby.”

He said Castner will also coordinate New Jersey’s participation in the recently formed States for Gun Safety coalition, which also includes New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

“New Jersey will stand up to the gun lobby and fight for a safer state, and we will work to prevent gun violence in the cities and neighborhoods most impacted by this senseless epidemic," he said.

He said New Jersey will be "a model for our nation on smart policy and smarter programs."

Castner, who has been serving as senior vice president of corporate and regulatory affairs at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, said elements of the gun lobby will confronted when necessary, and he anticipates “bringing the full force of the State of New Jersey against unscrupulous manufacturers, distributors, and retailers.”

Bill Castner. David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ
Bill Castner (David Matthau / Townsquare Media)

“We need an unprecedented systematic attack on gun violence in my estimation,” he said. “The gun industry takes aggressive steps to protect guns, and this is about now taking steps to protect people.”

Murphy said he shares a strong bond with Castner “to keep our communities safe from gun violence.”

“New Jersey is toward the head of the class on the gun safety stuff. We don’t to take that for granted," he said. "We want to get better.”

According to the governor's office, Castner will advise the governor and his administration on a pro bono basis for 60 days. Additional long-term work related to Castner’s position will be covered through existing state resources, he said.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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