U. collaborates with research organization to release 2022 report on firearms statistics in New Jersey
The New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center (GVRC) recently released its 2022 Report on Firearms in New Jersey, which was created in collaboration with Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers.
The survey was conducted across the state in order to gain knowledge on how many New Jerseyans live in homes with firearms, the reasons why, how firearms are stored and how frequently they are carried outside of the homes via telephone interviews from July 18 to July 27. The information will inform policy with the goal of reducing firearm violence.
Michael Anestis, principal investigator of the report and executive director of the New Jersey GVRC, said one of the most surprising findings from the report was that less than 10 percent of New Jerseyans have been inquired about firearm access by their healthcare providers.
“Asking these questions is not the sole responsibility of healthcare providers, but they represent an enormous opportunity to reach firearm owners with information on life-saving behaviors like secure firearm storage,” Anestis said. “We cannot reach people if we don't know who and where they are, so making questions about firearm access a routine activity by trusted providers could go a long way towards keeping New Jerseyans safe.”
He said the report’s other most surprising finding was that firearm owners who are between 45 to 54 years old were most often found to carry their firearms outside their homes. It is critical to study further why these individuals carry firearms this frequently and how they can feel safer without a firearm being present, he said.
He said the report showed a higher percentage of New Jerseyans who live in homes with firearms than other reports show, partially because more people own firearms in New Jersey than previously.
“Part of this is also likely because of how we asked the question,” Anestis said. “We were interested in whether individuals live in homes where firearms are stored and thus have access to them whereas most other surveys ask whether an individual him or herself owns a firearm.”
He also said the increase shown in the report reflects the fact that since mid-2020, the United States has faced a surge in firearm sales across the entire country.
Anestis said that the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has led firearm ownership to surge significantly across the U.S. and that the demographics of those who own firearms have changed as well, going from purchasers mainly consisting of white men to also including more women, Black and Latino purchasers as well.
“Some of this is due to the pandemic itself, but plenty of other factors have also contributed, including a contentious presidential election, fears about increases in gun violence, supply chain concerns and a sense among some individuals that they must take their protection into their own hands,” he said.