Christie Announces His Anti-Violence Program

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Keeping New  Jersey SAFE

Governor Christie Puts Forward Comprehensive and Common  Sense Plan to Strengthen Existing Gun Laws and Background Checks, Bolster  Criminal Penalties and Target and Treat the Root Causes of Mass Violence


Building on New Jersey’s already strong guns laws that rank  among the toughest in the country, Governor Chris Christie has a  comprehensive and responsible action plan to help reduce gun violence.   The plan focuses on four distinct areas:


  • Responsibly Expanding New Jersey’s  Already Stringent Gun Control Measures
  • Making Mental Health Treatment And  Screening Mandatory For Those Who Need It Most, And Making It Easier For  Health Professionals To Order Treatment For Individuals In Crisis
  • Addressing The Influence Of Violence  In Video Games On Today’s Youth By Requiring Parental Consent
  • Bolstering Criminal Penalties For  Gun-Related Crimes And Reforming Bail Laws To Keep Our Most Violent Offenders  Out Of Our Communities




Governor Christie’s plan  to responsibly expand New Jersey’s strict gun control measures includes:


  • Banning future purchases of the  Barrett .50 Caliber (New Jersey law would ban any weapon that is  substantially identical to the Barrett .50 Caliber);
  • Strengthening the State’s existing  background check requirement by mandating that adjudicated mental health  records are included in the instant background check process at the time of a  firearm purchase as part of the National Instant Background Check system;
  • Requiring firearms purchasers to  present a valid government photo ID, along with the already mandatory  Firearms Purchaser Identification Card.


Governor Christie Is Committed To “Strictly Enforcing” New  Jersey’s Already Strong Gun Laws: (Press Conference, 7/31/12)


  • The  Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence Ranked New Jersey’s Gun Laws The  Second Strongest In The Nation Behind Only California. (Brady  Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence, “Brady 2011 State Scorecards: New  Jersey,” Accessed: 1/17/13)


  • The  Law Center To Prevent Gun Violence Gives New Jersey An “A-” For 2012, Tied  For The Highest Grade They Awarded. (“New Jersey State Law  Summary,”   The Law  Center To Prevent Gun Violence, 11/14/12)


New Jersey Is Leading The Nation In Gun Safety:


  • One  of only seven states with a ban on Assault Weapons (43  states do not have a ban).


  • The third strictest magazine  capacity laws in the country (43 states do not have any capacity laws at  all).


  • One of only three states that  restrict gun purchases to one per 30-day period.


  • One  of seven states to require firearm owners to report the loss or theft of  their guns to law enforcement.


  • Any  individual purchasing a firearm undergoes a background check.  When a  person applies for a firearms purchaser ID card, which is mandated for any  long gun or a handgun purchase permit, an extensive and thorough background  investigation is required. At the time of the firearm purchase, an instant  background check is also performed.


  • The  state imposes a 7-day waiting period prior to the purchase of any firearm (39  states do not have a waiting period).


  • Individuals convicted of certain  disorderly persons offenses, such as disorderly persons domestic violence  offenses, are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms.


  • New  Jersey requires the licensing of all firearms dealers and their employees and  requires them to maintain records of all sales of firearms and ammunition.





At the announcement of Governor  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. Although there is no way to  reasonably predict acts of violence, Governor Christie is proposing to take  steps to give health professionals and courts the ability to mandate  treatment that current standards do not sufficiently provide for, while also  providing greater flexibility in the type of care offered.


  • Making       It Easier For Mental Health Professionals And Courts To Mandate       Individuals in Crisis Receive Treatment.        Governor Christie is proposing to change current law to       simplify the process for screening and treating mental health illness so       that health care professionals and courts can mandate potentially       dangerous individuals receive treatment whether in the form of inpatient       or outpatient care. This will also make it possible to monitor their       progress and adapt to different forms of care more easily.


  • Separating  the standards for involuntary inpatient commitment and involuntary outpatient  commitment to emphasize the clinical and medical attributes of mental illness,  as distinguished from developmental disabilities, substance use, or physical  limitations;
  • Offering a new, and more precise  definition of mental illness that will aid mental health professionals and  courts in swiftly approving appropriate types of treatment, including  commitment; and
    • Mandating new  training programs for First Responders to educate those most likely to  encounter persons in crisis with modern techniques for de-escalation, and  appropriate guidance for prompt referral to screening.


  • Creating       Certainty To Current Standards For Involuntary Outpatient Treatment: The       Governor is proposing to amend the law to provide additional clinical       criteria to help guide the commitment process and to eliminate       uncertainty expressed by clinicians and courts regarding their authority       to order this type of essential assistance:


  • Have  a history of lack of compliance with treatment;
  • Have  demonstrated one or more acts of serious violent behavior to self or others;
  • Have  threatened, or attempted harm, within the past forty-eight months; or
  • Are unlikely to voluntarily comply  with treatment because of mental illness.


  • Giving       Providers Flexibility To Move Individuals To The Appropriate Form Of       Care:        Governor Christie is proposing that current law should be amended to       create flexibility in the type of care an individual is receiving so       that they can transition to different forms of mandatory care as their       treatment progresses.  This will allow mental health care professionals       to address real time need.


  • Ending The “Broken Loops” In Clinical Oversight: Governor Christie is proposing to amend current law       to allow a court to preserve a person’s ability to move to outpatient       commitment easily to ensure continuous and appropriate treatment.


  • Eliminating  Firearm Eligibility After Involuntarily Commitment: Governor  Christie’s proposal would amend current law to provide that a person who has  been involuntarily committed to mental health treatment should not be  eligible to obtain a firearms purchaser identification card or handgun  purchase permit unless the court that ordered the commitment finds otherwise  based on adequate medical evidence.


  • Facilitating  the Voluntary Surrender of Firearms for Safekeeping During Periods of Crisis: Governor  Christie would authorize local authorities to allow for the voluntarily  surrender of firearms to law enforcement for safekeeping when the owner, or  any other person, is concerned that the weapons might pose a danger.   Voluntarily surrendered firearms should be returned upon request, and no  prosecutorial presumptions against the person surrendering the weapons are  permitted.





Oftentimes lost in the  debate about controlling gun violence in society is the constant exposure a  young child or young adult has to graphic violence. Governor Christie is  proposing a series of measures to help raise awareness about the level of  violence in video games. His proposals aim to help educate parents about the  type and extent of the violence depicted in video games and to actively  engage them in the purchase of these games in a similar manner to the current  movie ratings system.


  • Requiring Parental Consent To  Purchase Violent Video Games:  In a similar way to how the  current movie ratings system works, Governor Christie’s proposal requires  consent of a parent or legal guardian for the sale or rental of any game  rated “Mature” or “Adult Only” by the Entertainment  Software Rating Board (ESRB).


  • Requiring Retailers To Post Video  Game Ratings Information:  Governor Christie’s proposal  will require retailers to post notifications of the ESRB ratings system at  the point of sale and to develop, maintain and conspicuously display their  policy on selling video games with an M or AO rating.


  • Limiting Access To Violent Video Games In Public       Areas: The Governor’s proposal would eliminate the placement       of video games with an ESRB rating of M or AO, or similarly violent       depictions, on State property.





Governor Christie is  proposing a series of bills that will 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.


  • Impose  Criminal Penalties for Selling Firearms to Convicted Criminals: Create a  new crime for selling or transferring a firearm to another knowing they have  been convicted of a crime, confined for a mental disorder, or do not possess  a valid firearms identification card or permit.


  • Impose  Criminal Penalties for Possessing a Firearm with the Intent to Unlawfully  Transfer:  Create a new crime for possessing a firearm with the intent to transfer to  another, knowing they have been convicted of a crime, confined for a mental  disorder or, do not possess a valid firearms identification card or  permit.


  • Impose  Criminal Penalties for Hiring a “Straw Purchaser”: Create a  new crime for persons who hire another to purchase a firearm or ammunition  when statutorily disqualified from purchasing weapons or ammunition.


  • Impose  Stringent Penalties for Firearms Trafficking: Upgrade the  sentencing requirements for persons convicted of leading a firearms  trafficking network to twenty-five years of parole ineligibility.


  • Impose  Criminal Penalties for Unlawful Possession of Ammunition: Persons  disqualified from firearms possession should be similarly prohibited from  possessing ammunition.


  • Impose  Criminal Penalties for Failure to Comply with Court-Ordered Surrender of  Firearms Purchaser Identification Card or Firearms: Create a  new crime for possession of a firearms purchaser identification card or  firearm after having been ordered to surrender either by a court. If the  court-ordered surrender is based on a criminal conviction, the sentence  imposed should be served consecutively to the sentence for the underlying  offense.


  • Impose  Criminal Penalties for Tampering with Firearms Documents: A person  who knowingly alters or tampers with a firearms purchaser identification  card, or a handgun purchase permit, should be guilty of an offense of the  same degree as the crime of unlawful possession of a firearm.


  • Impose  Criminal Penalties for False Presentation of Firearms Documents: A person  who knowingly provides false information on an application for an  identification card or permit should be guilty of an offense of the same  degree as the crime of unlawful possession of a firearm.


  • Increase  Criminal Penalties for Allowing Minors and Disqualified Persons Access to  Firearms:  Raise to a third-degree crime the existing penalties for failing to take reasonable  precautions to prevent minors from accessing firearms, and expand to include  any person who is subject to disqualification (such as mental illness and  serious crimes).


  • Criminalize  Illegal Firearms Trafficking: Create a new offense for the unlawful  possession, use, or distribution of multiple firearms. The degree of the  crime should increase based on the number of firearms possessed, beginning  with a single firearm.


  • Criminalize   “Straw Purchases” of Firearms and Ammunition: Create a  new criminal offense for obtaining, or attempting to obtain, a firearm or  ammunition for another where the purchaser knows or reasonably should know  that such other person is prohibited from possessing the firearm or  ammunition. These “straw purchase” offenses should be graded as a crime of  the same degree as the crime of unlawful possession of a firearm.


  • Expand  Authority to Investigate Aggravated Firearms Offenses: Add all  newly created first- and second-degree firearms crimes to existing laws  permitting electronic surveillance.


  • Expand  Racketeering and Organized Crime Laws to Include Firearms Trafficking: Provide  that new gun trafficking crimes constitute predicate offenses under RICO.


  • Impose  Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Unlawful Possession of Assault Firearms: Apply  existing mandatory minimum sentences to the unlawful possession of an assault  firearm, and not just to the unlawful possession of a handgun, rifle, or  shotgun.


  • Impose  Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Aggravated Firearms Crimes: Apply  existing mandatory minimum sentences to other aggravated firearms crimes  including: a) possession of a weapon loaded with hollow-nose or body  armor-penetrating bullets; b) possession of a stolen weapon; c) possession  following previous convictions or delinquent adjudications for an indictable  crime; or d) possession of a firearm while on bail for another charge.


  • Authorize  Restraining Orders for Aggravated Firearms Crimes: Authorize  restraining orders against persons charged with or convicted of gun or  gang-related offenses.


  • Requiring  Sellers to Report Suspected Tampering or False Information on Firearms  Documents:  Governor Christie’s proposal would require any seller of a firearm or  ammunition to report any buyer that he/she has reason to believe has:


  • Altered or  tampered with a firearms purchaser identification card or handgun purchase  permit;
  • Misrepresented  his or her identity; or
  • Provided  false information as to the intended ultimate user of the firearm or  ammunition, should be required to promptly disclose the suspected evasion to  law enforcement.


Reforming  Bail Laws to Keep Our Most Violent Offenders Out of Our Communities


  • Restrict  Release on Bail for Aggravated Firearms Offenses: Add all  newly created first- and second-degree firearms crimes to existing laws  restricting release on bail.


  • Increase  Bail Requirements for Aggravated Firearms Crimes: Add all gun  crimes subject to a mandatory minimum sentence to the list of crimes with  bail restrictions set forth in existing law.


  • Protecting  Communities by Authorizing Detention Based on Dangerousness: Governor  Christie is proposing implementing legislation for a proposed constitutional  amendment that allows a court to order detention if no amount of bail or  conditions would:


  • Assure  defendant’s appearance at further proceedings;
  • Protect  safety of any person or the community; or
  • Prevent the  defendant from obstructing or attempting to obstruct justice.  Allows  for a detention hearing upon motion by a prosecutor when the defendant is  charged with certain violent offenses, a crime of domestic violence, or where  a temporary restraining order was already in effect.  At the hearing,  where the defendant may testify, the court must consider the nature and  circumstances of present offense, the weight of likely evidence of the  underlying crime, and the history and characteristics of defendant.





Governor  Christie signed Executive Order 130 (a copy of which is attached), creating  an inter-agency working group to produce a multi-disciplinary approach aimed  at decreasing violence, promoting safer and healthier communities, and  highlighting the importance of de-stigmatizing mental illness and encouraging  early intervention. The working group will explore:


  • Prevention and intervention (e.g., educating youth,       parents, and teachers about the warning signs of violence and the       negative consequences felt by teens and young people who are ostracized,       isolated, and experience despair);
  • A focus on strategies that will ensure workforce       expansion in fields like licensed clinical social work, nursing, and       psychiatry over the next decade while encouraging students in those       disciplines to work in the public or community health systems;
  • Developing a comprehensive public information campaign       utilizing all forms of media, communications and technology to better       inform New Jerseyans about broad range of programs and services       available in the community;
  • Recommending additional steps to educate parents on       how to make healthy media choices for their children; and
  • Taking administrative action to implement the        “S.W.A.P.” Program, an ongoing voluntary initiative where the NJ State       Police conduct occasional unannounced visits to the schools in areas       covered under rural police authority.
Posted: April 19th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Chris Christie, Crime, Crime and Punishment, Gun Control, Gun Rights, Guns, Second Amendment | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments »

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