Measure Would Declare Gun Violence a ‘Public Health Crisis,’ Would Urge Expansion of Mental Health Treatment and Passage of Federal Gun Control Bills
TRENTON – Senator Raymond J. Lesniak will testify on his legislation which would declare violence as a “public health crisis,” would empanel a commission to look at ways to mitigate violence, and would recommend the federal adoption of stricter gun control standards at a hearing on Monday in the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.
“The danger of gun violence in our communities has become a threat that is too great to ignore,” said Senator Lesniak, D-Union. “While there are no easy answers when it comes to reducing violent crime in New Jersey, there are certainly options available to us. If we are not willing to try, shame on us as a Legislature, and shame on us as a State.”
The Senate Law and Public Safety Committee is scheduled to meet at 10:30 AM on Monday, January 28. According to Senator Lesniak, the following witnesses are also scheduled to testify:
• Roselle Borough Mayor Jamel Holley;
• Elizabeth City Council President Bill Gallman;
• Plainfield Mayor Sharon-Robinson Briggs;
• Representatives from New Jersey Psychological Association;
• and Salaam Ismial representing the NJ Anti-Violence Coalition and the National United Youth Council Inc.
The legislation, S-2430, which is also sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner, D-Mercer, would declare violence a public health crisis in New Jersey, opening up the possibility of using funds from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to mitigate the crisis. The bill would recommend the expansion of the use of involuntary out-treatment commitments and mental health courts to treat mental health issues before they erupt into violence and divert mentally ill offenders to court-mandated treatment. It would also recommend federal adoption of the gun control measures announced by President Barack Obama last week, and would establish a Study Commission on Violence to make policy recommendations to reduce violence in the Garden State.
The bill was introduced earlier this month. If approved, it would go to the full Senate for consideration.