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TRENTON — New Jersey has begun using its purchasing power to try to influence gun vendors as well as insurers to embrace gun-safety measures, such as preventing firearms transfers to traffickers, under an executive order Gov. Phil Murphy signed Tuesday.

Murphy signed the order in Morristown alongside gun control advocates and Col. Patrick Callahan, superintendent of the State Police, who supported the action.

It’s the latest measure aimed at reining in illegal gun activity that the Murphy administration has taken amid fatal shootings across the country. Last year, Murphy signed a number of bills, including a measure capping magazines at 10 rounds, down from 15, as well as so-called red flag legislation.

“We want those who do business with New Jersey to share our values and be committed to ending the scourge of gun violence in our communities,” Murphy said.

Under the order, a division of the state treasury will request the vendors and retailers selling guns and ammunition to the state to adhere to public safety principles. Those include preventing, detecting and screening for the transfer of firearms to straw purchasers and firearm traffickers.

Prospective bids for guns and ammo under the order are to require that each vendor adhere to those principles in order to win the bid.

Bill Castner, the Murphy administration’s special adviser for firearms, said Tuesday recent state purchasing of firearms, ammo and other accessories is $70 million.

The order also calls on the state treasury to request information from any financial institutions the state does business with on whether they have adopted codes of conduct on gun safety. Murphy estimated that the state pays about $1 billion in fees to these institutions.

Finally, the order calls on the state Department of Banking and Insurance to prohibit or limit insurance products that “encourage the improper use of firearms.”

Banking and Insurance Commissioner Marlene Caride said Tuesday, for example, that Lockton Affinity LLC agreed to pay a $1 million fine as part of a consent order with the department over its administration of administering a National Rifle Association-sponsored insurance program.

Second Amendment advocates and Republicans criticized the order.

Scott Bach, the executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs, an affiliate of the NRA, said instead the state should punish “actual wrongdoers” more severely.

“Trying to coerce gun manufacturers into limiting what they sell to the law-abiding public restricts Second Amendment rights but makes no one safer,” Bach said in an emailed statement.

Doug Steinhardt, the state GOP chairman, said the order amounted to criminalizing certain gun retailers and called on the governor to do something “meaningful” to combat gun crimes.

The order takes effect immediately.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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