TRENTON – A year ago last Friday, Gov. Phil Murphy traveled to Newark to announce his support for a third round of gun-safety legislation.

On Tuesday he did it again, this time from the pulpit at Saint Lake Baptist Church in Paterson. The bills haven’t budged in the Legislature, but he said there’s been one significant change in the last 12 months.

“In the year since then,” Murphy said, “we have seen 1,359 New Jerseyans shot and 250 New Jerseyans killed by guns.”

He said that’s unfair.

“And it’s outrageous that their state government in Trenton isn’t doing everything it can to stem this tide of gun violence,” Murphy said.

Murphy was joined by federal and state lawmakers, Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh and community activists who support stricter gun laws.

“This startling surge of gun violence is not going to end by itself,” said U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-Paterson, who said the strategies now being used are obviously not enough.

Murphy said the bills in the package are common sense and consistent with the Second Amendment. And he said that in part because of the two rounds of gun laws from his first term, New Jersey has the nation’s third-lowest rate of gun deaths.

“And yet third lowest does not mean zero, so we must together fight on,” he said.

One bill requires gun owners to store guns in a lockbox or safe. “This is not doctoral calculus. This is basic stuff, right?” Murphy said.

Another bans .50-caliber guns, which Murphy said can take helicopters. “Ukrainians need them. We don’t need them in New Jersey. Who can seriously argue that these weapons of war belong on our streets?” he said.

Another allows public nuisance lawsuits to be filed against gun manufacturers and distributors for not deterring the flow of illegal guns. “That sounds a little gobbledygook legalese. That’s a big deal. We can tie this back to the gun manufacturers, we bring them down unless they behave according to our laws,” the governor said.

The remaining bills in the package would require people to complete a safety course to receive a permit to purchase a gun or get a firearm identification card; require new residents of New Jersey to register their guns within 60 days of moving in; raise the minimum age to buy shotguns and files from 18 to 21; require electronic records of ammunition sales, shared with the State Police; and require ‘microstamping’ technology that makes it possible to trace which gun a bullet was fired from.

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Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, agreed to the package in December. The past Senate president, Steve Sweeney, didn’t support the bills, and new Senate President Nick Scutari, D-Union, has not shared his position publicly.

Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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