Back on October 13, 2020 S&W received a court order from Jersey’s AG, Gurbir Grewal, which requires the company to produce “true, accurate, and complete copies of all advertisements for your merchandise that are or were available to New Jersey concerning home safety, concealed carry, personal protection, personal defense, personal safety, or home defense benefits of a firearm, including a Smith & Wesson firearm.”
Smith & Wesson has been in the business of making guns since 1852. The picture above is an ad for the Smith & Wesson Model 3 revolver, which was manufactured between 1870 and 1915. Want to tell me how digging up this advertisement does anything to advance the debate about guns and gun violence right now?
There happen to be exactly four states – Hawaii, Rhode Island, New York, Massachusetts – which have a lower rate of gun violence than New Jersey. I’m not saying there isn’t room for improvement, we can always do better in any area of public health. But Jersey recorded a rate for automobile fatalities that was twice as high as the death rate from guns. Do you see the AG showing up and demanding advertisements covering the personal benefits of owning a car from General Motors or Ford?
Then there’s another issue about gun violence in New Jersey, and that has to do with what my public health friends refer to as the epidemiology of where this violence occurs. In 2018, according to the CDC-Wonder database, one-third of all fatal shootings in New Jersey took place in two counties which together hold 14% of the state’s total population. If the gun-violence in these two counties was no higher than the rate in the state’s other 13 counties, New Jersey would be far and away the safest state in the United States.
I’m talking about Essex and Camden Counties. Ever take a ride through Newark’s Springfield-Belmont neighborhood? They only had 7 murders there last year. But if you really want to get a taste of gun violence in New Jersey, the city of Camden ranked third in the entire United States after East St. Louis and Chester, PA. East St. Louis always ranks first.
This extraordinary level of human carnage in just two cities, and actually only within certain neighborhoods within those cities, has absolutely no connection to how Smith & Wesson advertises or sells its guns at all. And if the New Jersey AG wants to make neighborhoods in Newark or Camden safer places to live, it’s not going to happen no matter how many advertisements he forces S&W to produce.
Every, single handgun that’s shipped from S&W in Springfield to a gun dealer in New Jersey can’t leave the retailer’s shop unless the purchaser is first granted a permit which allows him to buy one gun – not two, not three, one. Now the idea that someone goes to the trouble of first getting a state gun license and then getting a permit to purchase a handgun and then takes the gun out of the store after passing a background check so that he can walk down the street and gun someone down…. I mean, c’mon. Gimme a break.
If the New Jersey AG wants to do something really serious about gun violence, he needs to sit down with the state’s Congressional delegation and ask them to promote a national gun-control plan, such as moving handguns onto the NFA list, or creating a national registry, or some other method t0 prevent guns from moving illegally into New Jersey from other, less-regulated states.
I’m still waiting for our friends at Giffords or Brady or any of the other gun-control organizations to admit or even understand that we have gun violence because we allow free access to handguns that were designed for one purpose and one purpose only, which is to end human life.
Until and unless my friends in gun-control nation stop fooling around with half-assed measures like suing Smith & Wesson for misleading ads, there won’t be the slightest change in how many Americans are killed and wounded each year with guns.