The push by legislators to tighten New Jersey’s gun control laws further may have had one unintended consequence: gun sales are up, reports the Newark Star-Ledger. Federally-mandated background checks for people looking to purchase guns in New Jersey saw a nearly 40 percent spike last year. It was the second year in a row the number of background checks in the state rose sharply. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System processed 120,071 checks in New Jersey in 2013, up from 85,851 in 2012 and 60,256 in 2011.
Background checks aren’t a direct indicator of gun purchases, in part because they aren’t required for private sales, and because not everyone who undergoes a background check ends up purchasing a firearm. Hard numbers on actual gun ownership is hard to come by, so background checks remain one of the best indicators of how gun purchases are trending. New Jersey still ranks among the lowest states in the nation for gun ownership and has among the strictest regulations of firearms. For comparison, Pennsylvania saw more than a million background checks last year to New Jersey’s 120,071. Those numbers were part of a nationwide uptick in background checks, which reached a national all-time high in 2013. New Jersey legislators are taking up new gun measures after Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a package of them.