Gun control for the mentally ill: Dems hope to override Christie’s veto
In 48 tries, New Jersey Democrats have never been successful in overriding one of Gov. Chris Christie’s vetoes. Attempt No. 48 is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
The top Democrat in the Upper House predicted that not supporting this particular override try would come back to bite his Republican colleagues in the future.
The vetoed bill (S-2360) would allow police to tell a judge about any suspicious reports regarding a person trying to expunge his or her mental health records in order to buy a gun. In other words, the measure is designed to prevent mentally ill people from getting guns.
“It’s a pretty common-sense piece of legislation that no one viewed as partisan at all. We all agreed unanimously,” said State Sen. President Steve Sweeney (D-Thorofare).
The bill did pass unanimously in the Senate and the Assembly in June. If all 24 Democrats in the Senate voted for the override, three Republicans votes would still be needed. If that happens the Assembly would need to take action too. Fifty-four votes are needed which means six Republican Assembly members would have to support the override along with all 48 Democrats.
“This makes zero sense for them (Republicans) not to support,” Sweeney said. “If they reverse themselves eventually they’re going to have to look in the mirror and explain to people how they can back away from something they supported.”
Sweeney and other Democrats also felt Christie’s veto had nothing to do with the actual bill.
“I cannot endorse a continued path of patchwork proposals and fragmented statutes that add further confusion to an already cumbersome area of law,” Christie wrote in his conditional veto on Aug. 10. “Instead, we must seek real reform. It is our responsibility to enact a comprehensive set of solutions that build safer communities and ensure that individuals with mental illness get the treatment they need.”
Refusing to give the votes for the override might harm republicans with voters down the road, but then again it might not according to one political expert.
“It might bite some Republican sometime in the future who’s in a marginal district,” said Peter Woolley, a professor of political science and Fairleigh Dickinson University. “This is politics and fewer people pay attention to state politics than to national politics and fewer still actually act on it or vote on it or sort out these issues.”
Voters probably won’t be paying close attention to this particular issue any more than they pay a lot of attention to any other statewide issues, Woolley said.
Kevin McArdle has covered the State House for New Jersey 101.5 news since 2002. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter at @kevinmcardle1.