♦️ NJ ranks among 5 states with lowest gun death rates

♦️ NJ’s sparse mass shooting history most recently includes gunfire at a mall and at a grocery store

♦️ The analysis shows states with the lowest rates of overall gun death have strong gun violence prevention laws and low rates of gun ownership


As Michigan continues to reel after a deadly mass shooting carried out by a New Jersey man, new federal data shows states with the lowest rates of overall gun death in the nation are those with relatively strong gun laws.

New Jersey is one of five states with the lowest gun death rates in the nation and low rates of gun ownership, along with New York, Massachusetts, Hawaii and Rhode Island, according to statistics cited in a Violence Policy Center analysis.

Gun Death rates by State (VPC, Townsquare Media)
Gun Death rates by State (VPC, Townsquare Media)
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In contrast, the five states with the highest overall gun death rates had weaker gun laws and higher rates of gun ownership.

The total number of Americans killed by gunfire in 2021 was 48,830 — an 8% increase from 45,222 in 2020, the same analysis said.

The nationwide gun death rate increased from 13.73 per 100,000 in 2020 to 14.71 per 100,000 in 2021. NJ ranked third best, with a rate of 5.13.

Mass shootings in New Jersey

New Jersey’s history of mass shootings has been mercifully sparse.

In defining mass shootings, we found incidents involving perpetrators who were emotionally unbalanced or motivated by ideology or bigotry but also shootings motivated by gangland or personal disputes that resulted in multiple casualties.

Paramus mall shooting (Google Maps)
Paramus mall shooting (Google Maps, Townsquare Media)
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2013 Paramus mall shooting

A 20-year-old man fired shots inside the Garden State Plaza shopping mall in Paramus, trapping customers and staff inside for hours as police searched for the gunman — who ultimately shot himself.

There were no other injuries in the 2013 incident.

Investigators did not believe Richard Shoop intended to shoot anyone but was looking to draw a police response on himself.

Old Bridge grocery store shooting (Google Maps)
(Google Maps, Townsquare Media)
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2012 Old Bridge grocery store shooting

A Pathmark employee in Old Bridge left work and returned later, armed with an AK-47 rifle and an automatic pistol, killing two fellow store workers before shooting himself during the early morning hours.

The victims were township residents Cristina LoBrutto, 18, and Bryan Breen, 24.

The 23-year-old gunman, Terence Tyler, had served in the U.S. Marines from March 2008 to February 2010. He had worked at the store for about two weeks on the overnight shift before the deadly outburst.

NJ has also seen a sporadic number of targeted mass shootings — spanning back to the 1940s.

Cumberland County party shooting (Google Maps)
Cumberland County party shooting (Google Maps, Townsquare Media)
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2021 Cumberland County house party shooting

Three people were killed and 11 hurt, after gunfire at a house party in Fairfield Township, Cumberland County.

At least one man was charged with murder, 21-year-old Zedekiah Holmes, of Millville, NJ.com reported.

David Anderson and Francine Graham.
David Anderson and Francine Graham.
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2019 Jersey City kosher grocery rampage in 'targeted hate crime'

In what federal authorities said was motivated by hatred against police and Jews, two shooters killed three people inside a kosher market in December 2019, shortly after killing a Jersey City police detective.

On Dec. 10, 2019, David Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50, killed Detective Joseph Seals in Bay View Cemetery in Jersey City.

A short time later, the duo parked a white U-Haul van across Martin Luther King Drive from the JC Kosher Supermarket. They entered the store and killed three people: Mindy Ferencz, 31, Douglas Miguel “Miguel” Rodriguez Barzola, 49, and Moshe Deutsch, 24.

When officers responded to the shooting, a three-hour firefight ensued. Two officers were shot but survived. Anderson and Graham died in the exchange.

Art All Night Shooting in Trenton
(AP Photo/Mike Catalini)
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2018 Trenton Art All Night shootout

A dispute between rival gangs turned ugly and erupted in gunfire, injuring 22 people — 17 of whom were shot after 3 a.m. June 17, 2018, at the art festival at the historic Roebling Wire Works building in Trenton.

2013 House party shooting in Hamilton Township, Mercer County

A gunman opened fire at a crowded party inside a home in Hamilton Township, leaving one 17-year-old boy dead and four people hurt.

1949 Camden man is 'America’s first' modern mass murderer

In what is considered among the country’s first mass shootings on record, 28-year-old Howard Unruh killed 13 people and wounded three others in a rampage in his neighborhood in 1949.

The World War Two veteran killed victims that ranged in age from 2 to 68, USA Today reported.

Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at erin.vogt@townsquaremedia.com

Click here to contact an editor about feedback or a correction for this story.

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