Mental Health Screenings for All Gun Applicants? [POLL/AUDIO]
In response to the deadly Connecticut school shooting in Newtown, and other recent tragedies, legislation introduced this week is meant to ensure the mental stability of anyone authorized to purchase a firearm in the Garden State.
Under the measure sponsored by Assembly Democrat Joe Cryan, anyone applying for a firearms purchaser identification card or a permit to purchase a handgun would be required to pass a mental health screening administered by a medical doctor or licensed psychiatrist in New Jersey. The screening would be developed by the Superintendent of the State Police in consultation with the Commissioner of Human Services.
“Newtown was a true eye opener for us,” said Cryan. “Based on what we know about the alleged shooter at this point, mental health may have played a key factor in this tragedy. And this appears to be a common thread in many of the mass shootings we’ve seen in recent years."
Currently in New Jersey, every law enforcement officer is required to undergo a psychiatric evaluation in order to carry a firearm, but the rule does not apply to civilians.
Opponents Cite Burden in Process
Opponents of the proposed measure have said law-abiding citizens should not be subject to such a burden in a process that has been unchanged for so long.
Cryan responded to the objections:
"As a law-abiding citizen, you understand that laws change and evolve. The times have changed. Our culture has changed. There is clearly a diminished sense for the value of life."
A similar measure was introduced by fellow Assembly Democrat Angelica Jimenez. Under her bill, in addition, any card/permit applicants would be required to have an on-site inspection and evaluation of the household where the firearm will be located.