Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick and Assembly Republican Whip Scott Rumana held a press call to discuss the recently emphasized gun legislation that had been vetoed by the Governor. In the Senate, that veto was overridden when Democrats under the leadership of Senate President Steve Sweeney were able to secure enough Republican votes. Earlier this month, the Assembly couldn’t match Sweeney’s victory when Democrats failed to secure the number of votes needed to complete the override.
Now, Bramnick and Rumana are suggesting that lawmakers revisit an alternative bill put forward by state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. that they say includes language to close a loophole. According to the Republican leaders, the current language only requiring law enforcement to be notified in the event someone with a mental health record that has been expunged attempts to buy a gun. In order to close the supposed loophole, Kean’s bill suggests that police should be notified whenever a mental health record is expunged, not just when it turns to gun purchases.
According to the statements Bramnick and Rumana made today, closing that loophole would ensure no one with mental health issues falls through the cracks as is still able to purchase firearms.
“The experts tell me that a broader requirement of notifying law enforcement would prevent any kind of problem,” Bramnick said.
According to Bramnick, if the loophole were closed, enough assembly Republicans would vote to pass the bill and achieve the goals the Democrats set out to attain. He also said that the Governor could be convinced to sign it, avoiding another lengthy an difficult attempt at a veto override.
For Rumana the correlations that have been made between Governor Chris Christie’s veto of the original bill and pandering to gun groups as he pursues a presidential seat are misguided and inaccurate. He said that no gun groups opposed the initial bill and the veto had to do with mental health reform and not taking a piecemeal approach to the issue.
According to Bramnick, the recent attention the bill has had and the intense push by Democrats to get it passed despite Republican reservations is likely due to “politics not policy.” He said that Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto should meet with Republicans to hear their concerns before pushing for another override vote.
“New Jersey would love to see four leaders in the room with the governor,” Bramnick said. “Let’s get it done, let’s fix it and then we can get the governor to sign it.”
For Prieto, however, these calls for a compromise are nothing more than “weak excuses.”
“The Republicans can tie themselves in knots all they want making excuses for failing to support public safety, but they supported this bill the first time and the voters expect them to support the bill now,” Prieto said in a statement. “I’ve always said I’m open to other ideas, and they are welcome to introduce their bill, but this bill stands alone, just as it did when Asm. Bramnick sponsored it and voted for it. It’s been requested by the courts and it’s the right thing to do. The more weak excuses Republicans make, the more the voters will take notice.”