Editorial: More states should follow New Jersey’s new gun policy


Michael Mancuso | TNS

Gov. Phil Murphy is pictured in Trenton, New Jersey, in March.

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

With 289 mass shootings in the United States this year and counting, it’s a cliche and an understatement to say that we’ve normalized gun violence in the national consciousness.

Unfortunately, our national government is at a standstill regarding this issue. We’ve seen no real solution proposed or implemented to stop what has become a national crisis. State governments have also been slow to act, but one state recently announced its plan to use economic clout to get gun manufacturers and retailers to adopt gun control measures. This approach is one that could prove to be effective, if other states follow its lead.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order Tuesday that would stop the state from doing business with gun manufacturers and retailers that don’t adopt gun control measures, in the hope of using economic incentive to sway these groups. New Jersey won’t do business with those that don’t have background check policies or policies prohibiting the sale of firearms to people with a history of mental illness or domestic abuse convictions, among other things.

Local law enforcement agencies, state troopers and prosecutor offices who purchase firearms through the state would also be banned from dealing with gun manufacturers and retailers who don’t comply with the conditions as set forth in the executive order.

“Taxpayers are the top purchasers of firearms,” said the executive order. “The State should not be purchasing firearms, ammunition or equipment from vendors that place civilians and law enforcement in harm’s way by virtue of not adopting responsible practices related to firearms.”

The state will also apply financial pressure on gun makers and sellers by seeking information from banks that do business with New Jersey. It could choose to stop doing business with banks that have relationships with gun manufacturers and sellers that don’t adopt these new measures. New Jersey pays more than $1 billion annually in bank fees and intends to use this as leverage.

New Jersey already has strict background checks, but the new regulations will apply to out-of-state companies not already bound by state law. Murphy also hopes that his state’s new policies will inspire other states to adopt similar policies.

This could bode well for those who have been pushing for these kinds of gun control measures for years. The executive order expects responsibility and accountability from businesses that sell and make guns as well as banks that deal with them.

“If we find folks not living up to our standards, we reserve the right to stop doing business with them moving forward,” Murphy said.

Given the stunning inaction of the federal government on the issue of gun legislation, the New Jersey executive order is cause for some hope. It speaks to gun businesses in a language they respond to most — money. More states should consider similar executive orders going forward to have a greater possible impact on gun policy in this country.