Christie Vetoes Gun Bills

vetoAfter signing ten new measures into law earlier this month, Save Jerseyans, Governor Chris Christie made more waves in the gun control realm on Friday by signing additional gun-related legislation but by also issuing vetoes (conditional and absolute, respectively) for bill which had gun owners up in arms.

An explanation from the Governor’s office:

SIGNING LEGISLATION TO CREATE A BIPARTISAN SCHOOL TASK FORCE (A-3583): Governor Christie signed Assembly Bill 3583 establishing the School Security Task Force, a 15-member body made up of members from the educational, security and law enforcement community, as well as the general public.

CALLING FOR CODIFICATION OF EXISTING LAW FOR TRACKING SEIZED WEAPONS WHILE KEEPING INLINE WITH FEDERAL LAW (A-3797): The Governor reinforced his sensible approach to gun safety by calling for existing state guidelines for the reporting of firearms seized from criminals, recovered in criminal investigations or found abandoned or discarded, to be codified in state law. State directives on this reporting already matches federal reporting requirements and the state Attorney General already requires that this information is shared with database systems, including the National Crime Information Center’s 2000 System; NJ Trace (a part of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosive’s “e-Trace System”); and the National Integrated Ballistics Identification Network. The Governor’s action on bill A-3797 would codify these regulations, while at the same time making a minor change to bring the bill in line with federal law. The current bill calls for public disclosure of federal ballistics data (information that is already provided due to state law) which would be a direct violation of federal law (the Tiahrt Amendments).

SUPPORTS SEVERAL COMMON-SENSE MEASURES BUT “SMARTCARD” NOT FEASIBLE: Governor Christie supports several sensible measures that create uniformity, toughen penalties and protect our children. The Governor called for the following:

1. Requiring a New Jersey Firearms Identification Card for the purchase of all ammunition and reasonably restricting shipments of ammunition to the address specified on that Identification Card;
2. Protecting our children by creating a new criminal offense for any gun owner allowing a minor access to a firearm which results in injury or death;
3. Strengthening New Jersey’s mental health laws by requiring physicians and screeners overseeing involuntary commitments to inquire about gun ownership, and
4. Requiring all local law enforcement entities to distribute a pamphlet explaining the best practices for gun ownership, and a list of available courses for basic and advances firearms training that should be distributed at the time a permit or identification card is issued.

· ACKNOWLEDGES CREATIVE AND NOVEL PROPOSAL THAT EXISTS WITHOUT NECESSARY TECHNOLOGY OR FUNDING TO MAKE IT WORK: The idea at the centerpiece of this proposal – a one stop shop firearm ID “smartcard” would help integrate various information in one place and speed the process for legal gun owners and purchasers. But as the Attorney General, the Superintendent of the State Police, and the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles have all stated, the “smartcard” cannot be implemented now, or any time in the foreseeable future. In this way, it is similar to the 2002 “Personalized Handgun” law that requires New Jersey to adopt guns equipped with technology ensuring that that weapon can only be fired by a recognized user. The technology didn’t exist then, and it doesn’t now 11 years later. The law has never been used in its existence. Similarly, while the smartcard may be a well-intentioned idea, it is unworkable and impractical.

· FOCUSING ON COMMON-SENSE SOLUTIONS TO VIOLENCE, NOT IN NAME ONLY PROPOSALS (A-3659): The bill passed by the legislature seeks to ban a firearm that has reportedly never been used in a crime in New Jersey. It imposes criminal liabilities on all current owners of these firearms, including those who believed that they had properly registered their guns with law enforcement. This bill purports to curb gun violence, when in reality the overly broad classification of firearms it calls for banning are lawfully used by competitive marksmen for long-range precision shooting and are not used by criminal interests because of their size and cost, which averages over $10,000 per firearm. The Governor, the former chief federal prosecutor in New Jersey, favors proposals designed to provide real solutions to violence, so he is calling on the legislature to act on the dozens of proposals he put forward aimed at truly deterring criminals.

Matt Rooney
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MATT ROONEY is's founder and editor-in-chief, a practicing New Jersey attorney, and the host of 'The Matt Rooney Show' on 1210 WPHT every Sunday evening from 7-10PM EST.

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