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Now Law: Downey, Houghtaling and Schaer Bill to Provide Suicide Prevention Training to Firearms Dealers

Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation on Tuesday sponsored by Assembly Democrats Joann Downey, Eric Houghtaling and Gary Schaer to provide suicide prevention training and materials to firearm retailers and operators of firing ranges.

“In 2016, more than one-third of all gun deaths in New Jersey were suicides,” said Downey (D-Monmouth). “That’s an incredibly alarming number, and it’s clear that it’s time for us to take action. Educating firearm dealers on suicide prevention and distributing informational materials at gun ranges and firearm retail stores will hopefully raise awareness and prevent future crises.”

The new law (A-3896) will require the Attorney General, in consultation with the Commissioner of Health, to develop a suicide prevention course curriculum and informational materials for retail firearm dealers and shooting range operators. The training, which will be provided by the Department of Law and Public Safety in a classroom or over the Internet, will focus on recognizing signs of suicidal tendencies, suicide intervention strategies, and information about available community services and counseling programs.

“As we work to combat suicide in our state, it’s important that we encourage firearm retailers to recognize the signs of someone in trouble,” said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth). “It may be enough to save someone’s life and help them get the assistance they need.”

“Providing suicide prevention training to firearm retailers creates the opportunity for intervention before these preventable tragedies occur,” said Schaer (D-Bergen, Passiac). “In 2016, almost 200 people used a firearm to take their own lives in New Jersey. If this training is able to help just one person, it will be an unqualified success for the people of New Jersey.”

The measure was approved in June by the Assembly, 73-0, and Senate, 37-0.