The number of shooting victims hit 15-year low in New Jersey

State officials report a 13% dive in shooting victims in 2023 compared to a year ago.

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File photo: Gov. Phil Murphy speaks about commonsense gun safety. (@GovMurphy/Twitter)

File photo: Gov. Phil Murphy speaks about commonsense gun safety. (@GovMurphy/Twitter)

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There were 924 shooting victims in 2023, a 13% decrease from the prior year. Within that number, 191 were fatalities; an 8% decrease from 2022. That’s the lowest drop since New Jersey began tracking the data in 2009.

Gov. Phil Murphy said the numbers are “even more remarkable” because there are more residents in New Jersey, compared to 2009. According to census figures, about 8.8 million people lived in the Garden State in 2010. The latest population estimates peg the number at approximately 9.3 million.

“Over the past year together, we have saved a historic number of lives from gun violence in New Jersey,” Murphy said. “That means more families have remained intact, more children will be able to grow up and live up to their full potential, and we are helping people feel safer in their homes and on our streets.”

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Admitting there is no “magic fix” for ending gun violence, officials credited the “holistic” approach to addressing the problem, including stricter gun laws and working with “violence interrupters.”

“It’s a clear indication that when we treat gun violence like a public health crisis and take a comprehensive approach to tackling it we can save lives,” said state Attorney General Matt Platkin.

Shootings are trending downward across the country, according to Joseph Giacalone, a retired sergeant with the New York City Police Department, and adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

“To say that we have taken a respite from the increases over the last couple years is always a good thing,” he said, adding that it’s “interesting” that the number of shooting victims is being used as a metric.

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Giacalone explained that it is not a good metric to measure crime because the number of victims could vary, unlike incidents.

“Sometimes you have situations where more than one victim and sometimes several can be shot at once,” he said. “If they’re going to use that metric, and God forbid something really terrible happens, they’re going to look awful next year.”

Giacalone said a better metric to use would be the number of incidents that affect everyday citizens such as robberies, felony assaults, and grand larcenies.

“Those are the things that actually create the perception of fear,” he added. “Where you’re coming from a train station, and you heard about somebody who got robbed [ or beat up, or pickpocketed] … That’s the fear that people get.”

The FBI switched over to a new crime reporting system in 2021 called National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS, pronounced neye-burs.) Not all police departments have sent their crime statistics to the federal agency for varying reasons, but Giacalone said local authorities should consider reporting into the system.

For example, New York City and Los Angeles did not report their crime numbers in 2021 or 2022.

“When the numbers come out and everybody’s gonna be touting them, their numbers are really not accurate at all,” he said. “Make sure that New Jersey is actually reporting their data to the FBI in the new NIBRS report because it’s important that everyone gets on board.”

According to the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer, 543 out of 578 participating law enforcement agencies in New Jersey submitted data to NIBRS for 2022.

Data on shootings is collected by state police on a regular basis, a spokesperson for the state Attorney General’s Office said.

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