New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is seeking expanded background checks for gun purchases and parental consent for minors to buy violent video games as part of his response to the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
Christie, a first-term Republican seeking re-election, also wants to ban purchases of the .50-caliber Barrett rifle, and to make it easier for doctors and courts to commit “potentially dangerous” people to mental-health treatment against their will. His proposals come a week after a task force he created in January released 50 recommendations to reduce violence.
The governor, a former U.S. prosecutor, has said since the Dec. 14 slaying of 20 children and six educators in Newtown that he’d be willing to discuss stricter controls as part of a more comprehensive package that also deals with mental health, substance abuse and violent video games.
“Ensuring there are common-sense safety measures when purchasing guns is not enough,” Christie said today at a press conference in Trenton. “We must address the many different contributing factors.”
New York, Connecticut, Colorado and Maryland have tightened gun laws following the Newtown killings. This week, the U.S. Senate fell six votes short of enacting a stripped-down version of gun controls that President Barack Obama had proposed in response to the shootings.
Several post-Newtown gun-control measures have already been proposed in New Jersey by Democrats who control the legislature. Christie has said he wanted to wait for his task force to finish studying the issue before taking action.
Christie said New Jersey’s gun-control laws are already considered the second-toughest in the nation by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. He cited the state’s assault-weapons ban, a seven-day waiting period prior to any firearm purchase, the third-strictest capacity laws on magazine capacity in the country and a one-gun-a-month law.
He is seeking to toughen laws by mandating that mental-health records are included in the instant background-check process at the time of a firearm purchase. He also is proposing bills to impose or strengthen criminal penalties for selling firearms to convicted felons, possessing a gun with the intent to unlawfully transfer, unlawfully possessing ammunition and engaging in firearms trafficking.
The governor said the bombings at the Boston Marathon this week are “another painful reminder” that “violent things will happen” no matter how many laws are passed.
“Some things, no matter how hard we try, are out of human control,” he said. “Bad people are going to do bad things.”
Christie said the violence has shown the need to make mental health a part of the proposals.
“You’ve had people who were deeply disturbed and for whatever reason were not getting treatment,” he said.