Update: The NJ Senate voted to override Christie’s veto. Now the NJ Assembly needs to vote.
Of all the issues surrounding guns, mental health has been the one area where people seem to be on the same side. “It’s mental health, not guns” is the chant heard from those who advocate for looser gun regulations. And “Mental health needs to be addressed” is shouted from the rooftops after each mass shooting that makes its way to national attention. It’s the easier part of the gun issue because everyone agrees that people with mental issues shouldn’t have guns. Don’t we?
It was no surprise that a bi-partisan bill focused on alerting local law enforcement to someone who is prohibited from owning a gun for mental health reasons seeking to restore their access to guns sailed through the New Jersey Legislature this spring. That’s right. S2360 was passed with unanimous, bipartisan support in the NJ Legislature.
Why does this bill make sense? Local law enforcement knows its local population. Police officers are the first responders to illegal activity and violent behavior. First responders are also alerted to suicide attempts and domestic violence calls. When someone who has been prohibited from purchasing firearms due to mental health issues seeks to expunge his or her mental health record in order to purchase a gun, state and local ought to be promptly and consistently informed. It is important for the safety of the individual, the community at large, and for law enforcement as well.
The New Jersey legislature did the right thing when they passed this bill with bi-partisan support. Governor Christie’s veto of S2360 shows his fear of acting on his conscience on any issue that even brushes against firearm issues. In refusing to stand by their support of this necessary and rational bill, those New Jersey legislators who refused to vote to override Governor Christie’s veto showed they value protecting Chris Christie’s reputation over the safety of New Jersey residents.
That Candidate Christie touts his record of zero veto overrides as he runs for POTUS makes it clear that his office has pressured state Republicans to maintain this stump speech talking point. NJ legislators must vote with conscience on October 22nd and stand up for those of us who value New Jersey and its residents more than national politics.
New Jersey legislators must show up and vote to override Governor Christie’s misguided veto of S2360 on October 22nd, 2015. It matters. And it’s the right thing to do.