New Jersey’s governor torpedoed a measure that would have added steps to those seeking to clear certain mental health records for the restoration of gun rights this week.
The bill would have required individuals looking to erase old mental records so that they could legally purchase firearms first notify the state Attorney General’s office and others of their efforts. The proposal passed both chambers of the state legislature in unanimous votes.
In the end, Christie was not impressed.
“I cannot endorse a continued path of patchwork proposals and fragmented statutes that add further confusion to an already cumbersome area of law,” said Christie in a 27-page veto message to lawmakers Monday. “Instead, we must seek real reform. It is our responsibility to enact a comprehensive set of solutions that build safer communities and ensure that individuals with mental illness get the treatment they need.”
Christie’s message, in fact, was more than five times longer than the bill he scuttled, S 2360, which would have mandated those seeking their records expunged through the courts first advise the Attorney General’s office, local county prosecutor, and state and local law enforcement of their efforts.
Currently law enforcement is not involved in the expungement process.
Christie largely recast a laundry list of reforms, first sent to the legislature last summer in a magazine capacity limit veto message, that would provide improved treatment for those suffering from mental health crises including new standards for involuntary commitment.
The veto did not sit well with the bill’s sponsors.
“With the issues of the mass shootings throughout the United States with people with mental illnesses who acquire firearms through loopholes, this is a path to minimize that,” said Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, D-Bergen, calling the move by Christie, “off base.”
Given the widespread support for the measure by state lawmakers, a veto override attempt could see an easy vote, providing Democrats in control of both chambers can get their Republican minorities on board.
However, Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. and Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick have not weighed in publically on any such move heading into an election cycle.