The city ranked fourth place in the list of municipalities with the highest number of ‘crime guns,’ a weapon unlawfully possessed or used, seized in April, according to data released by governor Phil Murphy’s administration this week.
14 guns were recovered in Paterson. That’s two more guns taken off the streets in the city than in Jersey City which ranked fifth place. Newark ranked first with 44 guns. Camden came in second with 18. And Trenton was third with 16, according to the state’s GUNStat report released on Tuesday.
The data in the report shows 268 guns were recovered in New Jersey in April. Majority of the weapons came from other states. Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Virginia sent the most guns into to New Jersey, according to the report.
“Our own laws in New Jersey can only do so much to stem this flow of guns,” said senator Loretta Weinberg of Teaneck in a statement.
Police director Jerry Speziale said the city’s drug trade and flow of guns from elsewhere are tied together.
“A lot of the stolen guns, I attribute them to the opioid and heroin epidemic. There’s a lot of people that come here from places like Pennsylvania and down south where guns are easily accessible,” said Speziale. “So, we get a lot of stolen guns.”
Speziale said some of those guns easily purchased in other states are often traded for drugs. He said a police officer from the Paterson has been assigned to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to investigate out-of-state guns that flow into the city.
For example, some guns get exchanged for drugs, but are falsely reported as stolen. He said collaboration with the ATF allows authorities to determine whether the weapon stolen report was a sham or not.
“The ATF, a central partner in this fight, continue to investigate straw purchasers and bad faith dealers in other states because what takes place in North Carolina or Georgia affects us here in New Jersey,” said attorney general Gurbir Grewal. “This issue is national, and knows no borders.”
Murphy’s administration is releasing monthly reports to highlight the havoc out-of-state guns have been causing in New Jersey. 77-percent of crime guns recovered in the first quarter of 2018 were first purchased in a state other than New Jersey, according to the first report.
“With these monthly GUNStat reports, we are providing crucial information to our residents and leaders so they have a fuller understanding of the impact of gun violence and the effects of firearms trafficking experienced in our state,” said Murphy.
The reports can be found here: http://www.njsp.org/njgunstat/.