Murphy: 4 Out of 5 Chance Guns in Jersey City Shooting Not From NJ
Gov. Phil Murphy, in a televised appearance Wednesday night, said there's little chance the guns used in a Jersey City massacre that left several people dead this week came from New Jersey.
And while boasting that New Jersey has some of the strongest gun laws in the nation, Murphy told News 12's Eric Landskroner without federal support, those regulations are "not enough."
"I don't know the facts, but the chances are 4 out of 5 of those guns didn't come from New Jersey," Murphy said on the news station's edition of Ask the Governor, a series that had been a longstanding presence on New Jersey 101.5 but that the Murphy administration has since taken to other networks.
The statements came in response to a caller asking what more the Murphy administration could to do support gun regulation, or help fund efforts to get guns off the streets.
Among those killed Tuesday in Jersey City was Officer Joseph Seals, shot in a cemetery during an encounter with ex-con David Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50, according to Jersey City police and state authorities. Both shooters were killed Tuesday afternoon in a shootout with police at the JC Kosher Supermarket, where three other people were found shot dead.
Seals himself had been praised by Jersey City officials for taking point on efforts to get illegal guns off the city's streets.
New Jersey has long been associated with some of the nation's strongest gun control laws, but during his tenure, Murphy has advanced even stricter regulations. The Murphy administration has instituted a "name and shame" effort intended to embarrass manufacturers and distributors whose firearms wind up used in New Jersey crimes.
Murphy has signed bills meant to spur development of so-called smart-guns, making it easier for authorities to seize guns from people deemed dangerous, reducing allowable magazine sizes and expanding background checks.
"We will not achieve what we need to achieve in the absence off federal legislation that the president would sign," Murphy said Wednesday night.
He said he's calling for "universal background checks ... the whole shooting match we've talked about."
Also in the appearance, Murphy urged patience and caution in describing the attacks -- focused on a Jewish supermarket -- as anti-Semitic, echoing sentiments from his attorney general earlier in the day.
Mindy Ferencz, 31, Douglas Miguel Rodriguez, 49 and Moshe Deutsch, 24 died inside the JC Kosher Supermarket when the two shooters got out of a van and opened fire with rifles on the store on Martin Luther King Drive on Tuesday afternoon. Video surveillance appears to show the shooters deliberately and specifically targeting the store.
Several media reports citing unnamed law enforcement have described ties between at least one of the shooters and the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. The sect is not considered Jewish by mainstream Jewish communities, and in turn describes itself as the only true Jewish movement. However, state authorities haven't confirmed those reports in public statements.
Community members in Jersey City have spoken of tensions between the community's black population and an influx of religious Jews from areas including Brooklyn in recent years.
Murphy stressed he and other officials had spent the time since the shooting in constant contact with Jewish community letters, and were taking the possibility of an anti-Semitic motive seriously. But he also said repeatedly there's much authorities don't know about the attacks or what led.
Mayor Steve Fulop, speaking at a separate news conference Wednesday, indicated he believes the attack deliberately targeted Jews.
“There’s no question this is a hate crime, and anti-Semitism should be called out aggressively and firmly immediately for what it is," Fulop, who is Jewish and a descendant of Holocaust survivors, said.
"I don't want to jump to conclusions, other than it was a tragedy," Murphy said Wednesday night.
The governor's calls for gun control are consistent with those he's made after several other shootings in recent years, and add to a chorus of such calls from Democratic lawmakers made the day of the attacks.
U.S. Representative Donald Payne Jr., whose district includes much of Jersey City, told Newsweek "what we need to do is get some federal legislation that is as tough as New Jersey's laws are across the nation."
"The problem is that you have the laws in New Jersey, but guns are allowed to come up from states south of us on I-95 and across I-80 from states west of us," he said. "So the problem is not the guns in New Jersey, it's the guns that come through New Jersey that cause us all the issues."