Gun Control Bills Approved by NJ Assembly [AUDIO]
The New Jersey General Assembly approved 22 gun violence prevention bills Thursday.
Most of the measures are sponsored by Democrats, and Republicans are blasting their colleagues for rushing through legislation without fully thinking the issue through first.
Among other things, the bills focus on reforming gun and ammunition sales, improving mental health services, enhancing gun safety, combating illegal gun trafficking, boosting school security and preventing gang violence.
"These measures are a blend of temperance and temerity - the temperance necessary to address this issue pragmatically without trampling on Second Amendment rights, and the temerity to tackle this issue once and for all," said Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver.
Oliver said, "For those who argue that our efforts are an emotional response to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I don't entirely disagree. To not be driven by emotion to address the incomprehensible slaying of 20 innocent children would be baffling."
Republicans say they know protecting the public is crucial and that's why the issues of gun control and violence prevention need to be studied thoroughly and deliberately.
"Governor Christie has a task force that is going to look at the broad issues of violence in society," explained Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick. "Rushing through legislation is not the answer. The answer is to allow the task force to do its job and then in a measured way pass the kind of legislation that's meaningful."
Bramnick called most of the approved bills, "poorly drafted, rushed through (and) illogical." He also accused Democrats of trying to make gun control a political football in an election year. Another Republican lawmaker thinks the legislation could actually be counter-productive.
"All of us in this building want to prevent human beings from turning into murderous monsters," said GOP Assemblywoman Amy Handlin. "These bills will simply reduce the good guys' ability to fight back and protect themselves and other innocent people. We don't need to make laws to make ourselves feel better about national tragedies. We need to pass smart laws."
Oliver stands by the legislation and is proud to have advanced it so quickly.
"This is not a knee-jerk response," said Oliver. "The time to get serious about protecting our communities from gun violence is long overdue. The proposals we have approved are common sense."
Christie's Thoughts On The Legislation
Yesterday, Christie was asked about the gun bills after accepting a re-election endorsement from Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long.
"I'm a little surprised at how quickly they've done it," said Christie. "This is a very difficult issue and a complex one and one that our national government has taken a long time to look at and study. It's amazing to me how quickly the Assembly can move when they want to."
The Governor promises to give the gun bills "due consideration" if they reach his desk.
"I have said in the past I think we are cheating ourselves if all we do is talk about the mechanics of gun control," explained Christie. "We better start talking about mental health treatment and making mental health treatment more available and less stigmatized in our society."
Complete List Of Approved Bills
The following bills were approved Thursday by the Assembly, with details on each bill available here.