Assemblywoman Joann Downey and Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling have sponsored legislation supporting Governor Phil Murphy’s plan to establish a Firearm Violence Research Center at a New Jersey institution of higher education.
The bill (A1108) establishes a Firearm Research Center at Rutgers University for the purpose of carrying out research that addresses the causes, prevention and reduction of firearm-related violence.
“The prevalence of mass shootings and gun violence is a uniquely American issue. America has more guns than any other country. However, even in Democratic countries with high levels of gun ownership, the number of mass shooting pales in comparison to America’s rates. In order to effectively combat this epidemic, we must arm ourselves with knowledge, not firearms. Only then can we find the root of the issue and address it,” said Assemblywoman Joann Downey.
“Our government has effectively removed the Center for Disease Control’s ability to research gun violence in this country by eliminating its budget for firearm injury research in 1996 - a moratorium that has lasted over two decades. We cannot base our approach to decreasing gun violence in this country in ignorance. If we will not allow the CDC to research this important issue, then we will empower our institutions of higher education to do so. We must end this epidemic in order to keep the residents of New Jersey safe. Research is an important first step towards that goal,” said Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling.
The center would study the nature of gun violence, its consequences, prevention, efficacy of existing laws and efforts to promote responsible ownership and use of firearms. The center would also administer a grant program for firearm research and would require Rutgers University to submit a report to the Governor and the Legislature one year after the establishment of the center, as well as every five years thereafter, detailing its research activities.
Gov. Murphy called for the establishment of such a center in his annual Budget Address on March 13, in which he proposed allocating $2 million for the facility.
The bill was inspired by a 2016 law from California which established a $5 million firearm violence research center within the University of California – the first such publicly chartered center in the country.