NRA on defense after governor exposes its role in gun crime pipeline


New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed an order calling out NRA-lobbied states that have the most lax gun laws and contribute to gun crimes across state lines. And the radical gun group is already lashing out.

Recently elected New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy is officially putting the NRA's favorite states on notice. And he's publicly highlighting those states' roles in the spread of gun violence around the nation.

Murphy signed an executive order directing his state to release a report every three months listing the states that are the source of guns used in crimes in New Jersey.

At a news conference, Murphy was explicit about the aim of the order. "If it means naming and shaming other states, that's exactly what we're going do," he declared.

He noted that in 80 percent of the 485 gun deaths in his state in 2016, the gun came from out of state.

New Jersey has some of the most stringent gun laws in America. But those laws have to live in coexistence with states where the NRA wields immense power.

"We cannot be blind to the fact that our gun laws are only as good as those in the states around us," Murphy explained.

But the gun safety opponents are immediately lashing out in response to Murphy's sensible measure.

The New Jersey Association of Rifle and Pistol Clubs, the state's NRA affiliate, responded to the order in typically weak and callous fashion. The group accused Murphy of "propagandizing gun crime data" and claimed the reporting "would be entirely one-sided."

The group also insisted that "hundreds of thousands of times each year nationwide ... the mere presence of a legal firearm stops crime, often without a shot fired."

But that does nothing to erase the death statistics cited by Murphy, a growing problem also faced by other states.

For example, Republicans like Trump often cite crime in Chicago, implying that gun laws like those in Illinois are not helping.

But Illinois is adjacent to Indiana, where the gun laws are far weaker. And between 2009 and 2013, 60 percent of the guns used in crimes in Chicago came from outside the state.

The NRA tries to make the case for weaker gun laws across the country without admitting this flaw in their argument. And initiatives like Murphy's are a direct rebuttal of the radical group, using objective data to illustrate the problem.

Murphy was one of the first governors elected after Trump took office, as voters began to back Democratic campaigns in resistance to his agenda.

During his campaign, Murphy took on the NRA and its cozy relationship with Chris Christie, the scandal-plagued Republican governor. The people of New Jersey rewarded him for it, and he won with over 55 percent of the vote.

The NRA has enabled the flow of guns across state lines for decades, and has used the crime generated by that policy to argue against stricter gun laws. Even now, the affiliates insist gun control is at fault for gun violence.

But actions like Murphy's expose the cynicism behind such arguments, and will save lives in the process.