The Bergen Record says the jumble of contradictory state gun laws on the East Coast allows cheap firearms to funnel into New Jersey along I-95, nicknamed the “Iron Pipeline.” New Jersey has strict gun laws, but the ease of firearms purchases in states with lax laws make it difficult to keep illegal guns off the streets of Paterson and other communities in the state. In 2009, illegal firearms killed 13 people in Paterson and injured 54. Most of the shootings involved gang members or drug dealers, but on at least two occasions a young person was accidentally shot dead with an illegally obtained gun.
At one point last year, residents crowded into the City Council chambers to plead passionately with elected officials to stop the gun violence. But state laws elsewhere make that difficult. In addition, recent federal regulations restrict the flow of public information about the provenance, or history, of guns used in crimes. “We may have some of the toughest gun laws in the country, but if surrounding states don't, it weakens our efforts,” said former Paterson Mayor Joey Torres. To be sure, even if guns were absent, there would still be violence in places where poverty, drugs and gangs breed desperation. But the availability of guns ensures that the mayhem will often be lethal.