July 23, 2019 | 67° F

Study finds that New Jersey is least dependent state on gun industry


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New Jersey is the state that is least dependent on the gun industry, according to a study conducted by WalletHub.

Jill Gonzalez, communications director for WalletHub, commented on the methodology of the study, as well as its other findings.

“We compared the 50 states using 17 metrics grouped in three key areas: firearms industry, gun prevalence and gun politics. We used data collected from reputable sources, such as the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI,” Gonzalez said. 

The report's purpose is to compare the economic impact of guns in each state. WalletHub wanted to determine which states rely most heavily on the gun industry, both for jobs, as well as taxes and political contributions, she said.

Lisa Miller, a professor in the Department of Political Science and director of the Lloyd C. Gardner Fellowship in Leadership and Social Policy, is not as confident in the study’s methodology as Gonzalez is.

“I'm dubious about an article on the economics of guns from a personal finance blog. If you read their methodology, it doesn't make a lot of sense. What does ‘depend on the gun industry’ mean? There are a huge number of confounding factors that they lump together,” Miller said.

Miller also said that the study’s results were of no surprise, considering the strict gun laws that have been instituted in New Jersey.

“Still, in the end, it doesn't seem to tell us much that we don't already know — some states are more economically and politically gun-friendly than others. New Jersey, not surprisingly, scores low on the metric because it has strict gun control laws, few gun manufacturers and it's also politically fairly liberal so its representatives, on the whole, tend to favor gun control and, as such, are less of interest to the gun lobby for campaign donations,” Miller said.

According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, New Jersey has the third-strictest gun laws in the nation, only behind Connecticut and California.

The study comes shortly after Rutgers announced that they will serve as New Jersey’s Center on Gun Violence Research. The announcement was made in October, The Daily Targum reported

“The center will gather community-level data on gun violence and other public health factors, conduct research on efforts to reduce gun violence across the nation and the world, consider innovative technologies to improve gun safety and create policy recommendations for gun violence prevention and public education,” according to Rutgers' website.

According to the site, Paul Boxer, who is the research director for the Gun Violence Center, commented on the WalletHub study, agreeing with Miller that the strict gun laws in the state discourages gun industry.

“I am not sure that states deliberately attempt to rely on, or not rely on, the gun industry. Our gun laws are very restrictive in comparison to other states, so it probably is not a very comfortable state for the gun industry for doing business,” Boxer said.

He said that while the gun laws may be detrimental to business prospects in the area, the laws are effective at preventing violence.

“I suppose from a strict economic perspective, any increase in business development could be construed as positive, but our existing laws are designed to promote safety and just going by the numbers they appear to be working — certainly in comparison to other states,” Boxer said.

Boxer also specializes in at-risk juveniles, according to his Rutgers site. He said that the lack of gun industry is beneficial to those demographics.

“I would prefer that juveniles have as little access to guns as possible,” Boxer said. “There is a lot of evidence to suggest that the mere presence of a gun increases someone's aggressiveness — this is a robust finding from social psychological research. There also is research to suggest that the risk of successful suicide attempts increases when a gun is available.”

While the data may show that New Jersey has a faint gun industry and restrictive gun laws, gun violence remains an issue for the state, according to the Rutger’s website.

“Firearm violence remains a public health problem throughout the United States with nearly 100,000 firearm-related incidents annually, about one-third of which end in death,” the site stated. “New Jersey, which has more comprehensive firearm laws and fewer deaths than other states, has an average of 475 firearm deaths each year and countless more injuries.”


Jake McGowan

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