Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez said that illegal gun purchases from other states are causing a spike in crime during last night’s gun rights panel hosted by the Guarini Institute of Learning Institute for Government and Leadership.
The event was moderated by Leila Sadeghi, the executive director of the Guarini Institute for Government and Leadership, and St. Peter’s Criminal Justice Professor/retired judge Kevin Callahan.
The panel for the night consisted of ex-Gov. Jim Florio, Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-33), Hudson County Prosecutor Ester Suarez, President of the NJ 2nd Amendment Society Alexander Roubian and attorney Jef Henninger.
Callahan and Sadeghi alternated asking questions to the panel. Callahan opened the discussion by asking Florio, “should the 2ndamendment as originally adopted in 1791 be modified or changed and what impact, if any, would the new president have on that process?”
Florio’s response gave mention to the idea that the 2nd amendment was at one point created for the government.
“If you go into the history of the 2nd amendment at the time of the founding fathers, what you had was two factions, the federalists and the anti-federalists, the people who wanted big central government and the people who wanted state governments,” he explained.
“The 2nd amendment was debated, there’s a record, it was debated, the anti-federalists were concerned about big governments, they were mostly concerned about a standing army at a national level maintaining that the state militias, state by state by state, could be mobilized to defend the country.”
“That’s why the 2nd amendment talks about the right to bear arms by state militia.”
That statement by Florio triggered an immediate response from Roubian.
“I completely disagree with the notion that there was some secret hidden meaning in the 2nd amendment that actually gave the powers to the government or the militia and everything else was for the people. The Bill of Rights begins ‘We the People’ not ‘We the Government provide these rights to the people.’”
Sadeghi posed a question for Suarez regarding the 36 homicides in Jersey City in 2015.
“In 2015 we had the highest number of homicides in Hudson County since 2010 and 36 people were murdered. Furthermore, in Jersey City alone there were 86 shootings last year, based on your position as the County Prosecutor, what percentage of these involved legal guns, where are they predominantly coming from, and what can be done to reduce these statistics?”
Suarez argued that a lot of the issues stemmed from illegal guns coming in from states like Virginia, South Carolina and Pennsylvania.
“We’re discussing illegal guns, that’s what we see on the street. Guns that were illegally obtained that nobody registered for, nobody sought to get a firearm for, nothing was ever done to attempt to get a firearm in a legal way.”
“Typically, they are coming from the South: they’re coming from Virginia, from South Carolina, they’re coming from Pennsylvania and, as much as we’re doing what we can, it’s tough because it’s easy to hide a gun.”
Mukherji gave his opinion on the issue of firearm legality by addressing the topic of concealed carry states.
“The states in which concealed carry is permitted we’ve had 440 deaths just in the past seven or eight years, 440 deaths, the atrocities were committed by folks who were carrying with a concealed carry permit,” he said.
“I think that the fact that New Jersey law is a bit more stringent in terms of showing a particular need as to why you have to carry a handgun if you are not a member of law enforcement has kept the people of this state safer than those in the states where there is not a requirement for showing a particularized need.”