AG releases safety task force report

The state Attorney general today released the report of the safety task force created by the governor in the wake of the Newtown, CT, school shootings.

The 83 page report from the NJ Safe Task Force offers a series of 50 recommendations for curbing violence in the state.  The recommendations focus on several key areas including gun control, urban violence, mental illness, substance abuse, gun violence, violence in the media and school security.

The report is sure to stir up the already raging debate over gun control as it makes several recommendations in favor of seizing guns from certain individuals, but shies away from several hot button issues including ther sale and use of high capacity magazines and assault style weapons.

Among those who could see their weapons seized are anyone arrested for an indictable crime, or against whom a proceeding for involuntary civil commitment  has been initiated, or for whom a mental health screening has been ordered.

The report also recommends allowing the seizure of weapons from a home where the arrested or committed person resides “unless the court is satisfied that adequate safeguards are in place to ensure that the person who has been arrested or is undergoing a civil commitment proceeding will not have access to the weapons.”

Democrats were quick to jump on the report as not going far enough in curtailing weapons violence because it steers clear of regulating specific guns, ammunition and magazines.

The report does, however, recommend clarifying certain of the state’s already restrictive gun laws, including requiring firearms Purchaser Identification Cards be renewed periodically and include a photo.

The report was tempered in addressing several of the most controversial isues that arose after Newtown, including measures that would require mental health screenings for gun purchasers.  While the task force recommends some purchasers be screened, the report is very careful in its wording.

“The Task Force does not think an applicant for a firearms purchaser identification card or handgun purchase permit should be required to submit to a mental health or substance abuse evaluation conducted by a mental health or addiction professional unless the law enforcement agency reviewing the individual’s application has an articulable reason to believe that, if not properly treated, the person might pose a risk to public safety if permitted to own a firearm. Further, no application for an identification card or permit should be denied for mental health reasons without providing the applicant an opportunity to provide information reflecting his or her fitness to own a firearm.”

The task force also made strong recommendations for regulating violent video games, suggesting that the state crack down on the sale of those games to minors, including requiring an adult to accompany a minor purchasing a game with a “Mature” or “Adults Only” rating.

And while the task force recommends the use of “School Resource” officers, “all factors should be considered” before putting armed security guards in a school, the task force said.

The task force was co-chaired by former Supreme Court Justice Peter Verniero, who is also a former state Attorney General, and former Attorney General John Degnan.

The full report is attached below.

AG releases safety task force report