Gun permits are on the rise in the Garden State, and a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll shows that's coinciding with a rise in the number of homes equipped with at least one firearm.

In the poll of more than 1,600 New Jersey adults, 19% reported that they typically have one or more guns stored in or around their home. That's up 50% since the last time Rutgers polled the question prior to the pandemic.

The poll, conducted in partnership with the New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center, finds that firearms in the household are more common among certain demographics: Republicans, men, white residents, middle-aged individuals, and those in higher income brackets, for example.

The state has seen a massive spike in permit applications since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision that says the ability to carry a gun in public is a constitutional right.

In March 2024, data from the Attorney General's Office showed that the Garden State recorded more than 33,000 concealed carry permits since July 2022.

Between January 2020 and June 2022, before the court made its ruling, there were fewer than 2,000 permit applications.

Risk vs. reward

The Rutgers-Eagleton Poll also found that New Jersey residents are divided on whether firearms increase protection from intruders in the home, and whether the presence of a gun in the home increases the risk of suicide or an accidental shooting.

A plurality of poll respondents (33%) said a firearm in one's home does not increase the risk at all of someone in the home harming themselves or someone else. Twenty-five percent said it greatly increases the risk.

Experts say there's a mismatch between perception and reality — the statistics related to the issue are clear.

“Having a firearm in the home dramatically increases the risk of suicide for all members of the household, while also increasing risk for unintentional shootings and fatal domestic violence," said Michael Anestis, executive director of the New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center. "If firearm owners are not aware of this, they may not be taking the necessary precautions to help avoid those outcomes, like storing the firearm securely in the home and storing it legally away from home during times of stress."

The risk of an intruder coming in to a home and hurting someone is not lowered at all when there's a firearm in the home, according to 32% of residents in the poll. Twenty-five percent think it greatly lowers the risk.

"Those with a firearm in the home are more than one-and-a-half times more likely than those without one to say a firearm moderately or greatly lowers the risk of an intruder harming somebody in the household," said Ashley Koning, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University.

Feelings on this issue are highly partisan — two-thirds of Democrats believe a gun in the home either slightly lowers the risk or doesn't at all, while two-thirds of Republicans believe the opposite.

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