NEWARK, N.J. — New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy called for a dozen new gun control measures in a sweeping election-year agenda aimed at tightening laws already considered among the toughest in the nation.
Murphy unveiled the measures Thursday during a rally-like event in a crowded community center in Newark.
“Half of New Jersey’s gun homicides occur in only five cities, and the number of gun crimes in these cities has skyrocketed over the last year,” Murphy said. “We cannot sit back when we know there is more to do to address the danger of gun violence in our communities. By taking the steps we are announcing today, we will further commit to making every block and every street in our state safer.”
The Democrat-led Legislature will weigh in on most of the measures. In a sign of legislative support, influential state lawmakers like state Sen. Teresa Ruiz and Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald attended the event and spoke.
“Governor Murphy’s gun safety package represents the next step of common sense reforms that will keep New Jerseyans safe from gun violence,” Greenwald said. “No one should have to lose a family member, friend, or neighbor to senseless violence. These measures are needed and long overdue. I look forward to working with the Governor to keep New Jersey at the forefront of the national fight against gun violence.”
The measures include a proposal to raise the purchasing age for firearms to 21 from 18 in the state. There are also proposals to increase violence intervention funding, require firearm safety training, mandate safe storage of firearms, promote microstamping technology, ban military-style .50 caliber firearms and close a loophole for importing out-of-state firearms.
President Biden praised Gov. Murphy for the measures in a tweet late Thursday.
“Thank you Gov. Murphy for stepping up and taking action to save lives,” the president said. “It’s long past time we pass common-sense gun reforms in every corner of the country to end our gun violence epidemic.”
Republicans in New Jersey weren’t so complimentary, including the GOP frontrunner to take on Murphy in the November gubernatorial election, former Assemblyman Jack Ciatterelli.
“The Murphy campaign is starting to sound more and more desperate,” Ciattarelli said. “Let me be very clear on the gun issue: Law-abiding women and men have a Constitutional right to own guns, and politicians like Phil Murphy, who scapegoat upstanding citizens for the actions of criminals or the mentally ill, should be ashamed of themselves.”
Ciattarelli said he would enforce existing gun laws and work to expand firearms access for victims of domestic violence and others who “demonstrate a justifiable need to protect themselves.”