Earlier this year, a common sense gun violence prevention bill passed the Assembly by a 74-0 vote (with six lawmakers not voting on the bill) and it cleared the Senate by a 38-0 (with two senators not voting). S2360/A359 would require local law enforcement officers to be alerted when people who have been committed to a psychiatric facility ask a judge to expunge the record of treatment from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System so they may buy a firearm. We have seen too many mass shootings in this country perpetrated by people with mental health issues and easy access to firearms.
Unfortunately for the people of New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie, who is in the midst of a presidential campaign, vetoed this bill on August 10 of this year. Our governor is missing out on the opportunity to protect New Jerseyans from gun violence, having also vetoed a bill that would take guns out of the hands of dangerous domestic abusers. Lawmakers have yet to overturn a Christie veto since the governor took office in 2010.
No senator voted against this bipartisan bill in March, but only two GOP senators — Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) and Christopher Connors (R-Ocean) — voted to override fellow Republican Christie in a previous vote to over-ride in September. Two senators — Theresa Ruiz (D-Essex) and Joseph Kyrillos (R-Monmouth) — were absent. Two other senators, Christopher Bateman (R-Somerset) and Anthony R. Bucco (R-Morris) did not vote. The effort fell two votes shy, with a 25-11 vote. Twenty-seven votes are needed to override a veto in the 40-member Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, who hold 24 seats.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney vowed to get the veto over-ride passed, telling the senate “I am committing to you right now: be prepared to vote on this for many sessions.” He is holding to his word as another vote to over-ride Governor Christie’s veto has been set for this Thursday. A yes vote on this could go a long way to protecting children from mass and random shootings.
The Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of NJ is committed to passing common sense gun laws that would protect the people of our state and so we ask you to e-mail or call your legislators today and urge them to VOTE YES on this override, particularly if you are represented by a Republican. The time to act is NOW.