Figures in a new study out of Rutgers University suggest that one in every five New Jersey residents lives in a home with firearms.

That rate is still much lower than the rates recorded by many states in recent years, but it's also much higher than most past estimates for the Garden State.

Researchers suggest the spike is likely connected to a significant surge in firearm sales in New Jersey (the trend was also seen nationwide) since 2019.

According to the research, which surveyed more than 1,000 New Jersey adults during a 10-day span in July, around 1.5 million, or 19.9%, live in homes where firearms are typically kept.

Rand Corporation, which is considered to be the gold standard for data on this issue, had New Jersey's rate at 8% between 2007 and 2016. During that time, according to the data, several states more than quadrupled New Jersey's rate.

"New Jersey, not surprisingly, is at a lower percentage than what you see nationwide, in part simply because we ... regulate the process of acquiring firearms more restrictively than most states do," said Michael Anestis, executive director of the Rutgers New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center.

The research showed that white individuals, as well as individuals who "lean Republican," are more likely than others to live in homes with firearms.

Firearm storage in New Jersey

Hand opening safe

Part of the goal of the report was to get a better idea of how firearms are stored in people's homes. According to Anestis, a gun is properly secured if it's unloaded in a locked location (and/or with a locking device) and stored separately from ammunition.

"Secure firearm storage can help prevent a range of gun violence-related outcomes, whether that's suicide, whether that's unintentional shootings by children who access the firearm, whether that's lethal domestic violence, or whether that's theft and subsequent trafficking of firearms," Anestis said.

Two-thirds of gun owners in the report indicated that they always store their guns in their homes. Just more than half of the gun owners surveyed said that they always store their firearms in a locked location. Twenty percent said that their firearms are always or almost always loaded when they're stored. Answers among gun owners varied widely when asked if they store their firearms within reach of ammunition.

According to Anestis, New Jersey firearm owners tend to use more secure storage practices than what's seen in other surveys of firearm owners. That may be one of the factors, he said, behind New Jersey's ability to post gun violence rates lower than the national average.

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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