After the Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting in Connecticut in 2013, Gov. Chris Christie launched a commission to study violence and to determine if New Jersey’s gun laws are strict enough. The Study Commission on Violence released a 75 page report this week, recommending some new programs but no changes to the Garden State’s gun laws.
The Commission’s report recommends establishing a Division on Violence Prevention and Intervention as well as county-based programs aimed at young people in an effort to curb violence.
The Commission agreed, in the wake of mass shootings like Newtown, Columbine and Aurora, gun violence is a huge public health issue. However, the Commission stopped short of suggesting any new changes to gun laws here. It was considering the suggestions by the NJ Legislature to reinstate a ban on assault weapons, expand background checks that are required for anyone looking to purchase a gun, but failed to suggest these initiatives.
New Jersey is known throughout the United States as having some of the most stringent gun laws of all 50 states. And, while the Commission concluded that violence is a public health concern, it determined that the roots of NJ’s gun violence are planted outside the state. In fact, the report revealed, that 87 percent of guns used in the 3,834 gun-related crimes in 2013 in New Jersey were bought outside of the state.
The Commission was charged with reviewing violent crime statistics in New Jersey at large, not only as they relate to guns and other weapons. In fact, the group’s direct instruction was to “study the trends of violence, the source of violence, and the impact of violence on the community, to develop a method to address the epidemic of violence at the federal and state levels, and to make recommendations for state and congressional action.”
In reviewing violence in New Jersey, the members of the Commission considered youth violence, domestic violence, incidents of child neglect, suicide and murder. After reviewing statistics and risk factors, the report outlines several findings including:
· Eighty percent of all violent crimes in New Jersey occur in 21 cities
· Murder is the second Crime in down in NJ overall, 18 percent statewide but only one percent in major cities
· The homicide rate is up since 2009, especially within the Black community (men in particular)
· Drug and alcohol abuse are major risk factor in becoming a victim of violence
· New Jersey has many gangs; 9 counties report more than 90 gangs. (Ocean County has 114 gangs while Monmouth County has 132, according to the report)
Additionally, the Commission suggested improving how people already in the criminal justice system obtain mental health services. This initiative was suggested in light of the fact that the Institute of Medicine has linked mental illness and violence.
If you or someone you love has been charged with a violent crime, you need to hire a criminal defense lawyer who will fight tirelessly to protect your legal rights. Contact John W. Tumelty today for a free consultation about your criminal charges in Atlantic City or anywhere in New Jersey.