Gov. Chris Christie unveiled gun control and violence prevention measures that are as comprehensive as they are ambitious.
Christie acknowledges there is no way to prevent all violence in our society, but he says it is the job of government to question, to scrutinize and to demand more in an attempt to address the problem.
The plan calls for expanding New Jersey’s already strict gun control laws, expanding government-funded mental health treatment, making it more difficult for kids buy or rent violent video games, requiring that would-be gun owners show government-issued IDs and bolstering penalties for gun-related crimes.
“It’s hard for me to sit here today and say, ‘If all these things got imposed we’d see an ‘X’ percentage drop in gin violence in this state.’ I don’t know,” said Christie. “Bad people are going to do bad things and so, would greater penalties deter people? You hope they do.”
Expanding New Jersey’s Already Stringent Gun Control Measures:
New Jersey has the second toughest gun laws in the country. The first facet of Christie’s plan seeks to make them even stricter. This includes banning future purchases of the Barrett .50 Caliber; strengthening the state’s existing background check requirement by mandating that mental health records are included in the instant background check process at the time of a firearm purchase; and requiring firearms purchasers to present a valid government photo ID, along with the already mandatory Firearms Purchaser Identification Card.
Mental Health And Violence:
At the announcement of Christie’s NJ SAFE Taskforce in January in the aftermath of Newtown, he talked about targeting and treating the root causes of violence. Too many times there are instances of unspeakable tragedy and the question is asked how such tragedy could have been prevented. His proposals is this area include;
- Making it easier for health professionals and courts to require potentially dangerous people to receive the treatment they need whether it is in the form of inpatient or outpatient care. This will allow the monitoring of their progress and ensure they are receiving the kind of specific care they need.
- Creating flexibility in the type of care an individual is receiving, making it easier for someone to move from inpatient to outpatient settings.
- Changing the current standard of involuntary outpatient treatment to eliminate the uncertainty expressed by clinicians and courts regarding their authority to order this type of essential assistance.
Limiting Kids’ Access To Violent Video Games:
According to the Governor, too often lost in the debate about controlling gun violence in our society is the almost constant exposure young children and adults have to graphic violence. Part-three of his plan includes;
- Requiring that retailers post at the point of sale the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ERSB) ratings. Additionally, requiring retailers to develop, maintain and conspicuously display their policy on selling video games with an M or AO rating.
- Requiring Consent of a Legal Guardian. This is not different than the kind of parental supervision expected when a child under the age of 18 goes to see an R rated movie, Christie is requiring that a legal guardian provide consent when a minor purchases or rents a video game that has a rating of “Mature” or “Adult Only.”
Increasing Penalties For Gun-Related Crimes:
In a series of bills Christie seeks to impose or strengthen criminal penalties when it comes to selling firearms to convicted criminals, possessing a firearm with the intent to unlawfully transfer, hiring a “straw purchaser,” unlawfully possessing ammunition and engaging in firearms trafficking, among other areas. In addition, Governor Christie is seeking to reform bail laws for gun-related crimes by restricting the release on bail for aggravated firearms offenses and increasing bail requirements for aggravated firearms crimes.