Gov. Phil Murphy is pushing ahead with a plan he says will increase public safety and restore common sense to New Jersey’s gun laws.

During an event in Jersey City on Tuesday, Murphy announced the state will begin to identify the manufacturers of weapons used in crimes and seized by law enforcement officials.

He said since last year, the state has been publishing GUNStat reports that identify which states that the guns used in crimes are coming from. NJ GUNStat will be expanded this year to include the manufacturer of the weapons.

“We cannot just name and shame those states whose lax laws allow weapons to flow freely across state lines. We must also wake up the manufacturers," Murphy said.

“Surely it won’t be good publicity for them to know that they make the guns popularly trafficked by criminals. Perhaps finally we can enlist them to change our laws to clamp down on gun trafficking.”

New Jersey already has one of the most restrictive gun-control laws in the nation. So much so that the state's top Democratic lawmaker is reluctant to sign onto every one of Murphy's proposals. During an hour-long call-in show on New Jersey 101.5 last week, state Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, was skeptical of raising the fees on gun permits, which Murphy's latest budget proposal seeks to increase.

State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said gun manufacturers can make communities safer.

“Manufacturers, for example, can demand that their dealers work to adopt strong measures to target straw purchasers. We can also demand of them that they make their products safer by investing in real viable smart gun technology," Grewal said. “It’s our hope they will partner with us because I think public safety and law enforcement demand nothing less.”

During 2018, the GUNStat reports indicated 82 percent of firearms used in crimes in New Jersey came from other states, many from Pennsylvania and South Carolina — two states Murphy identified as having weak gun laws.

Murphy said enlisting the help of gun manufacturers will build on his administration’s recent efforts to combat gun violence in several ways, including placing restrictions on ghost guns, 3-D printed guns and large-capacity magazines; speeding up the development of smart-gun technology; encouraging anti-violence community programs; and creating the States for Gun Safety Coalition.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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