Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order Friday requiring that regular reports on gun violence in the state be made public.
The order is part of an effort to keep New Jersey at the "forefront" of fighting gun violence, said Murphy, a Democrat. New Jersey has among the strictest gun laws in the nation, and Murphy and the Democrat-led Legislature are considering additional legislation since a mass shooting at a Florida high school in February.
Murphy signed the order Friday at the Asbury Park Middle School alongside Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan and acting Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet.
"Because the public has the right to know why (gun crime) keeps happening," Grewal said, "we are doing everything in our power to combat the scourge of gun violence, and we hope our reports lead other states to do the same."
State police will publish monthly reports online on gun offenses, including information on offenses committed, type of gun used, number of people shot and the town where the crime happened, Callahan said.
According to the order, there were nearly 500 gun deaths in New Jersey in 2016.
New Jersey has among the strictest gun laws in the country, including a magazine capacity limit of 15 rounds, tight requirements on whether firearms can be carried openly and a ban on assault weapons.
But Murphy said 80 percent of guns used in crimes in New Jersey come from other states.
Gun rights advocates balked at the order and said it was "propagandizing" crime statistics.
"The reporting would be entirely one-sided, and would completely ignore reporting of the hundreds of thousands of times each year nationwide that the mere presence of a legal firearm stops crime, often without a shot fired," read a statement from the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, which is affiliated with the National Rifle Association.
Gun control advocates, though, seemed to welcome the move. Avery Gardner, the co-president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said states with stronger gun laws, like New Jersey, suffer from states with weaker gun laws. She pointed to federal data that shows guns from other states turn up in New Jersey.
"We think it is important for states to call out the source states of crime guns," she said.
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